At the start of the pandemic, media shutdowns, layoffs, and wage cuts spread all over the world, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, Brazil, Nigeria, Liberia, South Africa, Germany, New Zealand, the Philippines, and many other countries. While the media business in each country operates within its own unique norms and economies - and the effects of the pandemic are felt differently in each location - the worldwide media crisis continues.
More than a year after COVID-19 spread around the world, researchers and media reporters in several countries are closely monitoring media cuts due to the pandemic. In other cases, specific data are more scarce. Reporting an industry downturn is a tricky issue, as the “cuts” include a wide range of newsroom changes and also divert some worthy attention from the good news: innovative and aspiring journalism practitioners working to fill the gaps. But overall, the picture is not very beautiful.
The Digital Journalism Tug has mapped layoffs across the United States, reporting 65 final closings and thousands of journalists facing wage cuts, layoffs, or job losses. However, researchers have confirmed the cuts in more than 300 newspapers - with cuts across the web reported from the top, not individual publications - perhaps another thousand.
Outside the US, Canada's Journalism Project is tracking media cuts across the country in a similar initiative, from cuts in early March to the present. As of March 11, J-Source reported permanent closings of 44 news outlets, suspension of printing in 45 publications and 1,000 permanent layoffs in 182 publications.
“The history of the impact of the pandemic on media in Canada is linked to the continued loss of community newspapers, job losses in various parts of the media industry and the cancellation of print editions of both daily and weekly newspapers,” writes Stef Wexler.
J-source's report also notes its own limited data on the state of ethnic media or the impact of the pandemic on the state of freelance journalists, who, as Wexler notes, "make up a growing share of media workers in Canada."
The Australian News Mapping Project reports a slightly different picture in its own country, showing more recently that the state of the industry differs from state to state.
"Queensland has been hit hardest by the news closure, which reflects, in part, News Corp's historically strong presence there and the impact of its decision to shut down many of its regional publications," the Public Interest Journalism Initiative said in a February report. “Queensland is also the only state in which more news outlets closed than opened during the survey period. This is partly a reflection of the moment that when News Corp closed most of its regional outlets in the state, many communities reacted by launching new independent publications. ”
Since mid-March 2020, the project map has reported 175 “cuts” nationwide, defined as “negative changes in news production and availability,” and 77 “extensions” - positive changes, such as opening newsrooms or increasing service. The project also takes a few notes with caution in interpreting its data: its data does not include assessments of the media it monitors, does not take into account existing information flows, nor hypothetical situations, such as high closure rates for healthy entrepreneurial markets or low closures in monolithic or monopolistic media. markets.
In December, the European Journalism Observatory reported that the pandemic has caused significant damage to the European media industry, recording declines in Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Poland, Portugal, Latvia, Georgia and Spain. In Italy, many newsstands have filed for bankruptcy. In the first half of 2020 alone, 1,410 newsstands were closed. In Poland, some regional newspaper publishers reported revenue losses of up to 80%. Local independent publications reported similar losses in Ukraine. For PressGazette, Charlotte Tobitt shared a list of media companies in the UK that have filed claims for government support as part of a recent layoff payment plan. Regional publishers JPI Media, Archant and Midland News topped the list in January after the country was closed again.
In India, journalist Cyril Sam has documented a significant number of media cuts across India for his News, which reports cuts through August 2020.
“Every layoff and closure means our information ecosystem gets poorer and our sources of information shrink. Publication news
The media coverage of COVID19 can be very different from what we have today, ”writes Sam.
For many countries, there is no readily available or readily available data on the comprehensive impact of the pandemic on the media market. While the economic consequences of a turbulent year have hampered the development of journalism around the world, the importance of journalism is more evident than ever.