Media Insider: Meta Lays off 11,000, Forbes in Buyout Talks, The Recount Pursues Fire Sale

Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s roundup of media news stories from the week.

Meta Lays Off More Than 11,000 Employees
New York Times | Sheera Frenkel, Adam Satariano and Ryan Mac

Meta is laying off more than 11,000 people, or about 13% of its workforce, in what amounts to the company’s most significant job cuts. The layoffs were made across departments and regions, with areas like recruiting and business teams affected more than others. The divisions that were not cut as steeply included engineers working on projects related to the metaverse, the immersive online world that founder Mark Zuckerberg has bet big on. Zuckerberg attributed the cuts to growing too quickly during the pandemic when a surge in online commerce led to a big spike in revenue. He said he had thought the shift would be permanent, leading him to significantly increase spending.

Over at Twitter, new owner Elon Musk paints a bleak picture in his first communications with staff.

Forbes enters into exclusive buyout talks with investor group
Reuters | Chavi Mehta

Business news and information publisher Forbes has entered into “exclusive discussions” with an investor consortium for the sale of the company. The move comes months after the publisher pulled out of a deal to go public through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). In August, it said it hired Citigroup to manage the sale. The consortium comprises family offices and global investors, a Forbes spokesman said in a statement, but did not disclose the value of the deal. Forbes had been seeking at least $800 million in a sale, but the final deal price would likely be less than that.

Also from Reuters: News Corp misses quarterly revenue and profit estimates despite ad growth.

The Recount sheds most staff and pursues fire sale
Axios | Sara Fischer

Around a dozen staffers are left at The Recount, a video news startup that launched in 2018, after the company’s latest round of cuts last month. The outlet, created by veteran journalists John Battelle and John Heilemann, is trying to sell itself for a nominal sum, two sources familiar with the efforts told Axios. It lost $10 million in 2021 on $1 million in revenue, according to two other sources. The Recount restructured last spring, cutting around half of its staff. Then, last month, another round of cuts again sliced its staff count in half. Today, roughly a dozen staffers remain, with around nine left working on content.

ICYMI: Alabama Media Group will shift to digital and stop publishing newspapers in 2023.

New York Times Union Staffers Seriously Weigh Walkout Amid Tense Contract Fight
Daily Beast | Lachlan Cartwright

New York Times journalists are discussing a mass walkout if their long-delayed contract is not inked by year’s end. The dramatic escalation comes after months of drawn-out negotiations have stalled, leaving employees upset that they have not seen a pay raise since March 2020. The company has offered staffers a 2.7% per year average raise while the NewsGuild is holding firm at 6% over the span of the contract. Staffers said they have been further angered that the company is parrying wage increases with proposed cuts in its contributions to their retirement and healthcare funds. Times staff are now weighing their options amid increasingly hostile talks, including the very likely possibility of a walkout that could cripple production of the Gray Lady.

Read next: The News Movement, a news outlet with a strong focus on social media, comes to the U.S.

Gannett’s Q3 earnings were bleak, but CEO expects the worst is behind the publisher
Digiday | Kayleigh Barber

Gannett is optimistic the worst is behind it in terms of the economic downturn’s adverse effects on the company, a unique perspective in the industry considering several other publishers have stated that the fourth quarter has been off to as difficult a start as Q2 and Q3. “We believe that peak decline … from a year-over-year perspective, is now behind us,” said Michael Reed, CEO and chairman of Gannett during the company’s third-quarter earnings call. Nonetheless, the company’s fourth-quarter forecast signals it expects a 4% to 10% drop in total revenue year over year. About 36% of Gannett’s total revenue in Q3 came from its digital businesses, including advertising, subscriptions, affiliate, licensing, and the company’s Digital Marketing Solutions platform. But that number was down 2.3% from Q3 2021, largely due to declines in digital media (i.e., advertising), which was down 24.8% year-over-year. The scapegoat was “a softer programmatic advertising market” this quarter, according to Doug Horne, Gannett’s chief financial officer.

More Gannett news: Maribel Perez Wadsworth is leaving her post as president at year-end.

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Maria Perez is director of web operations at Cision. In her spare time, she enjoys gaming, watching too much TV, and chasing squirrels with her dog Cece.

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