The Journalist Bailout Programme

Mass media job cull

Or should that be media in mass job cull? Hardly something to jest about, but two images struck a note with me last week.

I thought they were worth recording here as they illustrate what we the can expect in the months ahead: and make no mistake, we're still at the start of this trend.  

First, this graph of media job losses in the UK from July until October, probably underestimated, as Peter Kirwan explains in an earlier post:

MediaJobLosses copy

Then, this screen grab from an article a colleague of mine did about chapel representatives attending a course by The Norwegian Journalist Union (NJ) on how to deal with the wave of redundancies and cost cuts the country's media currently is facing (and it's worth keeping in mind that Norway is only at the edges of recessionary terreritory, the crisis is much further advanced in the UK):

MediaJobLossesNorway copy

As I'm writing this, news are just in that The Independent is shedding a quarter of its journalists, according to FT. The Guardian reports 90 jobs will go at Independent News and Media (INM), 60 of them editorial.

To be honest, this has felt like a very protracted sort of crisis, a crisis in slow motion, though everything got more dramatic from the moment Lehman Brothers collapsed. I've been waiting for a crash in the advertisement market, with a corresponding "media crash", since the last quarter of 2007.

I don't follow the bank industry and was as shocked as everyone else by the bank crisis (though in retrospective it makes sense that it had to come, but it's always easy to be wise in retrospective), but I try to keep an eye on how developments in finance, technology and politics may come to effect my beat, media: I try to look for connections, and think that's an important part of every journalists job in today's increasingly interdependent world.

I thought the subprime crisis and the havoc we saw in its wake, even in its early days, would create a domino effect much sooner, and from that half-informed perecpective it has been a very drawn-out crisis, which we still haven't seen the worst effects of. Fred Wilson had some sobering words related to this the other day.

Back to my beat, a few days ago I was covering the Norwegian trade press' 110 year anniversary and, amid all the celebrationary speeches and champagne, I ended up having an interesting talk with a guy from the marketing department of one trade magazine who said their ad revenues had been very uneven, up and down, since early September, but he expected the downturn to really hit the Norwegian trade press sometime in the spring of 2009....


Oy vey. This is gloomy.

For what it's worth, you'll have blog readers no matter what. The amazing thing we're learning about mass media nowadays is that no amount of money can buy you the audience you need. That's something anyone who produces media of any sort has to work towards on a number of levels, I think.

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