Leadership

Amid Mass Layoffs, Journalism Associations Offer Support, Assistance

By / Jan 28, 2019 (AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

With layoffs affecting numerous media outlets in recent weeks, associations far and wide are taking steps to support journalists in sudden need of help.

After a long week of layoffs in the media sector—some of which are still ongoing—associations that represent reporters, editors, and others affected by industry shifts are offering a helping hand and a voice of support.

Widespread cuts at Verizon (the owner of the media properties once owned by AOL and Yahoo), Gannett (which owns a wide number of local newspapers nationwide, along with USA Today), and the digital media outlet BuzzFeed (which trimmed 15 percent of its staff), and other publications led to at least 1,000 layoffs last week alone.

This created acts of spontaneous support for journalists—in the form of donations, job postings, and buying beers, among other things—and associations have likewise spoken up.

The Society of Professional Journalists expressed deep concern about the challenges faced by reporters at newspapers and websites over the past week, and it created a resource page highlighting the association’s support of those who have faced layoffs and buyouts.

“Our members are the lifeblood of our organization, and it has been painful to watch as many of our friends, perhaps you, have lost their jobs as a result of dramatic industry changes,” SPJ stated. “As the nation’s oldest professional journalism organization, we stand with you during these trying times, and we thank you for your vigilance in pursuit of truth.”

The association is offering six-month dues waivers for its current members who have been laid off or are facing financial hardships, and it recently launched a LinkedIn group that aims to help journalists facing difficulties. The group is also encouraging people to gift SPJ memberships to laid-off individuals.

Other associations have offered similar help. The Online News Association highlighted its career center on Twitter last week, the National Association of Black Journalists said it would offer moral support to members, and the Asian American Journalists Association opened up its job board to nonmembers as part of a larger effort to lean on its broader network.

In some cases, the layoffs led to passionate responses. The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, for one, spoke out against the layoff of a specific member—Steve Benson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist at The Arizona Republic, one of many journalists working at Gannett papers who lost their jobs last week and one of a number of editorial cartoonists who suffered job losses in recent years. Pat Bagley, AAEC’s immediate past president, expressed specific concerns about Benson’s situation and made the case in pure business terms: “He draws in readers. He makes them money.”

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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