John Oliver used his pulpit on HBO's "Last Week Tonight" Sunday to diagnose the state of journalism in 2016. But just how sick has the media been in 2016?
Oliver blamed the media's ills on a combination of the public's unwillingness to pay for content and the growing trend of media outlets chasing traffic with click-bait fluff in lieu of a focus on hard news. The culmination of those trends, in Oliver's view, has been the mass layoffs that have plagued local newspapers and national outlets alike for the past decade.
"The truth is a big part of the blame for this industry’s dire straits is on us and our unwillingness to pay for the work journalists produce," Oliver said. "We’ve just grown accustomed to getting our news for free and the longer that we get something for free, the less willing we are to pay for it."
Oliver is not wrong. Halfway through 2016, dozens of media outlets across the country have had to lay off hardworking journalists, including here at the International Business Times. Here is a snapshot of those losses:
- Global news organization Al Jazeera laid off a shocking 500 employees in March, an estimated third of their journalists. The cutbacks were reportedly a result of budget cuts by Al Jazeera's owner, Qatar, tied to the falling price of oil.
- Here at the International Business Times, 15 journalists were laid off as a result of cost cutting restructuring in the newsroom.
- British newspaper The Guardian was forced to cut 100 staffers across its editorial departments to help fund an international expansion.
- Fox Sports laid off 20 online writers in March, including high profile blogger Jimmy Traina.
- Digital news outlet Mashable laid off an unknown number of employees in April as part of a company restructuring.
- In early May, the Boston Globe was reportedly bracing for more layoffs and offering buyouts to multiple divisions in its newsroom.
- VICE News cut 15 jobs in New York and Los Angeles, as well as the outlet's entire U.K. editorial team.
- In an effort to control costs — and presumable stave off future layoffs — while financing a digital expansion, The New York Times offered voluntary buyout packages to employees in multiple departments.
- In June, IBT Media laid off about 60 employees across its brands, including Newsweek. International Business Times was hit especially hard, losing over 30 employees.
- The Oklahoman, Oklahoma’s largest newspaper, was devastated by the loss of over 130 employees across multiple departments.
- Illinois newspaper The Post Bulletin cut 11 jobs in June ahead of website relaunch.
- The Arizona Daily Star lost nine players, including five copy editors and two members of its high school sports team.