When I was 16 years old, I told my parents that I wanted to be a journalist.
They hated that, obviously, and I don’t blame them. Why would they want their kid to go into a (their words) dying field? Especially one that has been at a low point for the past ten years.
Over the past decade, the number of jobs in newsrooms have dropped by 45 per cent. In the past month alone, major news companies have laid off major portions of their staff. BuzzFeed’s recent layoffs amounted to 15 per cent of its total staff, equating to about 1,100 employees around the world, Vice recently announced that it would lay off 10 per cent of their workforce and Verizon announced that it would cut 7 per cent of its headcount, around 800 people, from its media unit, which includes HuffPost, Yahoo and AOL.
Many have blamed these cuts on the shift to digital media, and while there is incredible opportunity with moving a news product online, the fight for advertising revenue is the biggest culprit in this. At the beginning of February, Facebook reported that it had made $16.6 billion in ad sales in the fourth quarter of 2018.
We all fell for high-quality video work, online exclusive articles and more recently, sponsored articles, to get ahead of cuts like this. However, if a company like BuzzFeed, who literally created a platform exclusively for online content, couldn’t keep up with the digital shift, then who can?
These numbers alone feel like enough to convince young journalists to steer away from pursuing their dream jobs, but to make matters worse, the Ontario Progressive Conservative party’s recent move to make ancillary fees optional can also be taken as a major attack on student publications.
As many post-secondary schools in Ontario are without a journalism program, student news rooms are most students’ first, if not only, taste at journalism. These cuts are devastating, and ultimately signal an end of an extremely long era.
If these cuts signal anything, it’s that the future of journalism is feeling more bleak than ever, especially to those who are just entering the field.