No news is terrible news

No news is terrible news

Like other industries, the news media suffered during the first years of the pandemic. But while the rest of the economy has come roaring back, that’s not the case with news. 2023 was a godawful year, with layoffs in the news divisions at CNN, NBC, and ABC. The Washington Post made deep cuts in October and newspaper chain Gannett chipped its news division by 6%, according to Poynter, a nonprofit media institute that declared 2023 “the worst year for the news business since the pandemic.” 

As Axios reports, 2024 appears to be a continuation of that trend. This is a presidential election year, which might be expected to generate more interest and more revenue. Declines that were attributed to less readership following the loss of Donald Trump’s daily antics might have been expected to reverse themselves when Trump returned to center stage. Except it’s not happening. Revenue and readership are still headed down and major cuts are ripping through news outlets of all sorts, whether they are print, broadcast, or online.

The biggest reason is simple: Ad revenue is no longer adequate to support news organizations. But the deeper reason behind that decline is elusive and while everyone scrambles to find some alternative, lights are shutting off in newsrooms across the nation.

If “Democracy dies in darkness,” as The Washington Post’s motto insists, it’s starting to look pretty dim out there. And nightfall may not be far away.

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