From Buzzfeed to dozens of local newspapers, media organizations are taking drastic measures to cover the loss of advertising revenue that has come with an economy shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.
John Stanton, co-founder of the Save Journalism Project, told Cheddar that the widespread cost-cutting and layoffs will have a long-term impact on the health of journalism.
"If you look around the country, there have been thousands and thousands of layoffs, furloughs, of people having their pay cut," he said. "It's just devastating, particularly at the local level.
Through the Save Journalism Project, a nonprofit advocacy group, Stanton is spreading the word about the essential role of journalism in our society, which he said has only grown in the face of coronavirus.
"Local news outlets are the people that are really getting the information out to the public," he said. "They're telling people why it's important that they follow these stay-at-home rules, why it's important that they take precautions."
Many local news outlets, however, had entered the crisis already in a precarious position. Indeed, mergers, consolidations, and layoffs have marred the industry for the last two decades.
Stanton blames this situation on big tech firms such as Google, Facebook, and Apple that have diverted precious advertising dollars, and made digital publishing unpredictable with ongoing changes to their respective platforms that did not account for their impact on journalism.
"They caused the industry, to a large degree, to be crippled before we came into the coronavirus pandemic," he said. "They were stripping out so much of the advertising money from us. They were making it difficult for people to get their content out, essentially taking away our ability to pay for our jobs. So when we hit this situation, there was no money left to sort of lean on."