Media Insider: Congress Drops Media Bargaining Bill, NY Times Employees Walk Out, BuzzFeed Announces Layoffs

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

Congress drops media bargaining bill amid Facebook, industry blowback
Washington Post | Cristiano Lima

Lawmakers on Tuesday ended what had been an effort to allow media organizations to negotiate revenue-sharing deals with tech giants, leaving the provisions out of a massive spending bill amid intense pushback from industry and advocacy groups. The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) was omitted from a bicameral agreement on Congress’s sprawling defense-spending legislation. The move came a day after Facebook said it would “consider removing news from our platform” if lawmakers moved ahead with the measure, a threat that publisher groups denounced. The proposal would have created a temporary carve-out in antitrust law allowing news publishers and broadcasters to collectively push for more favorable distribution terms for their content online.

Speaking of social media, a new survey finds social media is seen as mostly good for democracy.

New York Times Employees Walk Out after Contract Negotiations Stall
National Review | Caroline Downey

Hundreds of New York Times staff members went on strike Thursday after bargaining over enhanced benefits stalled. “Today we were ready to work for as long as it took to reach a fair deal, but management walked away from the table with five hours to go,” the NYT Guild tweeted Wednesday night. The union updated that the parties engaged in 12 hours of negotiations, with the journalists convincing management to preserve pensions among its long list of demands. However, by Wednesday the company was making little headway on improving salaries, raising the minimum pay bar for new employees, and contributing more money to cover health insurance.

In more union news, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and reps from the NewsGuild of Pittsburgh met for another round of negotiations. 

BuzzFeed Announces 12% Reduction of Workforce
Deadline | Ted Johnson

BuzzFeed announced that it was cutting the size of its workforce by 12%, making it the latest media company to go through layoffs amid worsening economic conditions. In a filing with the SEC, the company cited “challenging macroeconomic conditions,” the completion of its acquisition of Complex Media Inc., and an audience shift to short-form, vertical video. The reduction plan is expected to be “substantially completed” by the first quarter of 2023. Earlier this year. BuzzFeed announced that it was scaling back its news coverage as several editors departed.

BuzzFeed and other publishers are also cutting costs by replacing lavish holiday parties with more subdued celebrations.

Ad growth expected to slow further in 2023
Axios | Sara Fischer, Kerry Flynn

Growth in global ad spending is going to be slower next year than originally anticipated, according to two new forecasts. It’s a troubling sign for media and tech firms that rely on advertising to fuel their businesses. Much of the slowdown is driven by economic uncertainty, rather than true economic indicators that would cause an advertising recession. Growth in global ad spend is expected to slow to about 5.9% next year, according to media buying firm GroupM, down from 6.4% estimated in June. Magna, a unit of Interpublic Group’s Mediabrands, also reduced its forecast slightly. It predicted global ad revenue will grow 4.8% in 2023, down from the 6.3% it had reported in June. However, some sectors are doing well. GroupM updated its September forecast for retail media’s 2022 revenue from $101 billion to $110.7 billion, and it expects connected TV to grow double digits over the next four years.

Also from Axios: Video news company The Recount plans to suspend operations.

NJ could become first state to enact media literacy curriculum for K-12 students
Philadelphia Inquirer | Melanie Burney

New Jersey lawmakers could become the first state in the country to require public schools to teach media literacy to K-12 students to combat misinformation. A bipartisan bill approved last month by the Legislature would take effect immediately if signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy. Advocates say the measure seeks to help students who are bombarded with information from social media and news outlets learn how to discern whether the sources are credible. Under the bill, the state Department of Education would be required to implement literacy curriculum standards for what students must learn. That includes researching, using critical thinking skills, and learning the difference between facts and opinions and primary and secondary sources.

Related: Survey suggests people don’t trust the news industry because they don’t understand it.

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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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