News job losses outpacing the general economy


Unity: Journalists of Color has been tracking lost journalism jobs in the past year – all jobs, not just those held by minorities – and the numbers are staggering.

Since the Lehman Bros. collapse last September, the journalism industry lost jobs at almost three times the rate of jobs lost in the economy each month, the group said.

Unity’s 2009 Layoff Tracker Report shows an average 22% increase in journalism jobs lost each month from September 2008 through August 2009. In contrast, the economy shed jobs at an average pace of plus 8% each month during the same period.

“The news industry has been hemorrhaging jobs long before the economic crisis began last year. These numbers confirm that the economic downturn has hit the news industry very, very hard.,” said Onica N. Makwakwa, executive director of Unity.

The news industry has shed 35,885 since Sept. 15, 2008, and 46,599 jobs since Unity began tracking job losses on January 1, 2008.

Industry layoffs hit a peak in December 2008 when 7,398 jobs were lost. Since January 2008, 201 media outlets have closed.

Unity data also shows sharp spikes during periods when quarterly financial reports from public media companies come due.

“As the news industry shapes a new future and companies battle the financial storm, it’s important to remember that it’s about people too,” said Makwakwa.

Unity began the Layoff Tracker project in January 2008 in response to the increase in layoffs in the journalism industry. The report is compiled from SEC filings and self-reported data from 1,101 print and broadcast media outlets. It includes jobs lost in layoffs and buyouts, as well as by attrition.

RBR/TVBR observation: When will it end? We’ve been watching this devastation development was well, hearing company after company report on staff cuts in their quarterly conference calls. Most have no other option the money isn’t there. The only solution is an economic turnaround.