NPR to Lay Off 10% of Its Workforce In Latest Media Bloodletting

The nonprofit’s headcount reduction adds to a fresh rash of media layoffs that came after large-scale cutbacks in tech

National Public Radio staffers are the latest on the media chopping block, as the nonprofit’s CEO announced this week in a memo to staff that it will lay off about 10 percent of its workforce—totaling at least 100 employees.

In addition to the cuts of the current staff at the Washington, D.C.-based company, John Lansing wrote in his memo that NPR plans to take down most open positions for which it has been seeking and interviewing candidates.

“When we say we are eliminating filled positions, we are talking about our colleagues—people whose skills, spirit, and talent help make NPR what it is today,” Lansing wrote in the memo to staff. “This will be a major loss.”

Lansing pointed to a weak ad market and internal revenues that are predicted to miss the mark of their $300 million annual budget by $30 million as the reason for the cuts. 

“We’re not seeing signs of a recovery in the advertising market,” Lansing said in an interview. “Nothing is nailed down yet except the principles and what we know we have to reach.”

Some elements of NPR will definitely remain as they are, at least as far as the listening public is concerned. Lansing says he will remain committed to podcasting “1000 percent,” as well as major shows like Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Conclusive decisions on which jobs will be cut will be made the week of March 20, an NPR spokesperson said.

NPR is not alone in a recent slew of media layoffs, with companies slimming down to prepare for an expected recession or at least an economic slowdown. Many economists, including the famously pessimistic “Dr. Doom” Nouriel Roubini, expect some sort of recession, with Roubini warning in late 2022 of one that is “deep and protracted.”

In January, Vox Media laid off 7% of its workforce, which amounted to about 130 people. “We are experiencing and expect more of the same economic and financial pressures that others in the media and tech industries have encountered,” CEO Jim Bankoff said in a memo to Vox staff.

Also in January, MSNBC and NBCNews laid off 75 employees, while Spotify axed 6% of its talent and cut 6% of its staff in December.

CNN axed hundreds of jobs in December after its new streaming service, CNN+, was abruptly shut down after just two weeks. Recently, the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post yanked its Sunday magazine and disappeared assorted positions at the paper.

The tech sector, which is also reliant on advertising revenue, endured record-breaking cuts over the last few months. As Elon Musk took over, Twitter laid off half its workforce, giving 7,500 employees the boot. Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, cut a staggering 11,000 jobs. Microsoft vanished 10,000, citing economic worries. Alphabet (parent to Google) joined the bloodletting with 12,000 laid off. And Amazon beat them all, with the biggest headcount reduction ever, a whopping 18,000 innocent souls. All of these cuts are small compared to the amount of hiring that these firms undertook throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now that it seems like most of the carnage is over, for now, it looks like it’s time to sit back and wait for that recession that’s been expected for months now…

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