Media Insider: Record Media Layoffs, Fox Sends Cease-and-Desist to Tucker Carlson

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

Record number of media job cuts so far in 2023
Axios | Sara Fischer

The media industry has announced at least 17,436 job cuts so far this year, marking the highest year-to-date level of cuts on record, according to a new report from employment firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. A slowdown in the ad market, debt from consolidation, and subscription fatigue are among the factors putting a strain on the industry. In the last week alone, cuts were announced at DotLA, the L.A. Times, and Morning Consult. The high numbers of layoffs — which are more than those we saw at the outset of the pandemic — are also leading to more union conflicts and pressure on media bosses.

Also in the last week, The Athletic announced it was cutting 4% of its newsroom, or about 20 staffers.

Fox sends Tucker Carlson cease-and-desist letter
Axios | Mike Allen

Fox News has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Tucker Carlson for his new “Tucker on Twitter” series. Fox is continuing to pay Carlson and maintains that his contract keeps his content exclusive to Fox through Dec. 31, 2024. Carlson argues that posting on Twitter is covered under the First Amendment and says Fox has committed material breaches of his contract. The show drew a combined 169 million views for its first two episodes, which were straight-to-camera monologues. Carlson is reportedly planning to extend the length of the episodes and add guests. “Doubling down on the most catastrophic programming decision in the history of the cable news industry, Fox is now demanding that Tucker Carlson be silent until after the 2024 election,” said a statement from one of Carlson’s lawyers.

Speaking of Twitter, The Verge has a look at Instagram’s upcoming Twitter competitor.

Fred Ryan, Publisher of Washington Post, Will Step Down
New York Times | Benjamin Mullin and Katie Robertson

In an announcement that stunned the newsroom, Fred Ryan told employees this week that he is ending his nearly decade-long run as The Washington Post’s top business executive. His next role will be leading the Center on Public Civility, a new project by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute that is backed by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and owner of The Post. Ryan’s uneven track record at The Post included a surge in digital subscriptions (which have since plateaued), several Pulitzer Prize wins, and internal frustrations with the paper’s business culture. “I think if you look back over the arc, it’s been one of the most remarkable transformations in a news organization that was primary print and local, becoming primarily global and digital,” Mr. Ryan said of his time at the newspaper. Mr. Ryan’s successor will be faced with jump-starting the newspaper’s subscriber growth as well as addressing industry headwinds in the digital ad market. The coming presidential election could provide a tailwind, as readers turn to The Post for its authoritative political coverage.

Read next: Following the recent death of Ted Kaczynski, the so-called Unabomber, The New York Times looked back on the decision (and ongoing debate) to publish his manifesto in 1995.

How Warner used CNN to lobby Andrew Cuomo
Semafor | Max Tani

The recent exit of CNN CEO Chris Licht is just the beginning of the company’s latest troubles, it seems. Later this month, the company will begin arbitration with former host Chris Cuomo over his $125 million claim he was wrongly fired in 2021. As part of the arbitration, previously undisclosed text messages between then-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo — Chris’ brother — and network execs have been released. In the messages, CNN’s then-chief marketing officer, Allison Gollust — who had previously worked in Governor Cuomo’s office — requested that the governor speak to WarnerMedia’s studio chief, Ann Sarnoff, about reopening movie theaters in New York. Sarnoff then lobbied the governor to loosen restrictions on movie theaters, according to a person familiar with the exchange. It can be argued that the texts strayed into questions of government policy and corporate favor-seeking and could help illustrate points being made by Cuomo’s legal team.

ICYMI: The House of Representatives voted 422-0 on Wednesday to approve a bipartisan resolution calling on Russia to immediately free jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

It’s a ‘dogfight’: Publishers’ Q2 revenue was flat and they’re wary of remainder of the year
Digiday | Kayleigh Barber

Based on conversations with several media executives, it looks like flat year-over-year revenues are as good as it gets for publishers in Q2. While they are breathing a slight sigh of relief that the revenues haven’t decreased, an unclear rest of the year is causing execs to rethink sales strategies and adjust how they weigh profit margins when assessing new ad deals. “Every deal is more competitive, every advertiser is being more selective and often dealing with smaller budgets. And so I don’t really have a great feel for what the second half will look like,” one exec told Digiday. The shared habit among marketers of buying most of their ads in-quarter versus planning months or even weeks in advance makes it difficult to predict how the rest of the year will turn out.

Also from Digiday: Social platform Spill launches new beta iOS app with a ‘meme-forward’ aesthetic.

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Rocky Parker is the Manager of Audience and Journalist Engagement at Cision PR Newswire. She's been with the company since 2010 and has worked with journalists and bloggers as well as PR and comms professionals. Outside of work, she can be found trying a new recipe, binging a new show, or cuddling with her pitbull, Hudson.

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