Vox Media and Condé Nast announced sweeping cuts this week in various departments, adding to a long list of recent upheaval within media organizations around the world.
The two media powerhouses held layoffs on Thursday after losing a hard-fought battle against the declining ad market, which makes up a large portion of revenue for these companies.
Vox, publisher of New York magazine, Grub Street and NowThis, laid off 4% of staff – at least 20 people, according to the New York Times.
Vox Media did not immediately respond to the Guardian’s request for comment.
This round of layoffs marks the second for the organization this year. The first round in January saw 7% of employees let go across various departments like revenue and editorial operations. At the time, Vox Media’s CEO, Jim Bankoff, wrote in a memo to employees that the company was “not expecting further layoffs at this time”.
In a statement, the Vox Media Union called the move “devastating”, especially during the holiday season.
“We are furious that management has short-sightedly opted to eliminate these essential roles,” they said. “Our colleagues produce crucial journalism that should not be subject to the whims of executives or advertisers.”
The statement added: “We – the audiences who trust our journalism – deserve a stable and more equitable media landscape. Layoffs like these only deepen the instability that is rife within our industry, and make it harder for those of us who remain at Vox Media to do our jobs. In this time of ever-shrinking budgets and dwindling headcounts across the company, we demand that Vox Media management find a financial path forward that does not result in the elimination of any more union jobs.”
The union created a GoFundMe on Thursday to provide relief to those employees who lost their jobs. More than $10,000 has been raised so far.
Condé Nast, which publishes Vogue, Vanity Fair, Architectural Digest, Bon Appétit and the New Yorker, suffered an even larger blow. Earlier this month, the company announced a 5% headcount cut – more than 300 employees.
In a company-wide memo announcing the news, the Condé Nast CEO, Roger Lynch, said: “These reductions will take place over the next few months and total approximately 5% of all staff roles. There is no easy way to share this news and our focus will be on making this transition as easy as possible for our dedicated colleagues with enhanced severance packages and career service offerings.”
The company referred to this memo upon the Guardian’s request for comment on this week’s cuts, saying “this news has already been reported” and that the “actions following this memo state clearly that this will happen over the next few months”.
Employees across multiple office locations protested the layoffs on Wednesday.
On X, the union posted: “COAST TO COAST: Vanity Fair, GQ, and the New Yorker lunched out today in NYC, LA, and other remote worker cities in protest of proposed layoffs at Condé Nast … While management hides in London, we’re here in the states showing solidarity with our colleagues. #NoMoreLayoffs.”
The media landscape has seen no shortage of tumult in recent months. Layoffs at the aforementioned publications come on the heels of nearly 100 staffers being let go at Vice Media Group and G/O Media shuttering Jezebel and letting 23 editorial staffers go – both of which happened in just the last few weeks.
Grimly, and not even taking into account cuts taking place from the start of November to now, there have been almost 20,000 jobs eliminated across the media industry, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas. As noted by Axios, that’s more than six times the number of job cuts we saw in 2022 – and the year is not yet over.
In the wake of the Vox and Condé layoffs, one reporter at Vox, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Guardian that “the mood” among staffers at the moment “angry!”
A Condé Nast employee who requested anonymity told the Guardian that they have been “through multiple restructures over the years, but this one is feeling particularly unpleasant”.
The employee said: “While it was initially communicated by management that a 5% cut to staff would largely impact CNE and (audience development), it’s becoming apparent that many other departments in the US are being affected.
“There is little transparency or clear strategy, creating a culture of fear and drastically damaging morale across the staff. It’s increasingly hard to believe that the leaders of the company care about the quality of the work we do when resources keep getting stripped away, but KPIs and revenue targets continue to increase.”
Jenna Amatulli contributed reporting