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It’s been yet another brutal January. Yesterday, Dotdash Meredith were reportedly planning to lay off 7% of their staff. I’ve lost count of how many other companies – both tech and media – have also made cuts this month. I did see a chart showing how the layoffs are a mere fraction of the hires made by some orgs during 2020-2022, but that doesn’t make it any easier for those in the firing line right now.
Which is why this piece from Anne Helen Petersen is my top story today. She worked at BuzzFeed before going solo with her own Substack in 2020, so has been through her fair share of threatened layoffs over time. It’s really thought-provoking, not only exploring the impact of layoffs on those left behind, but also exploring the processes behind layoffs at places like Google. Also some pretty damning commentary on BF’s own (many) layoffs:
“I watched entire departments unceremoniously let go because they weren’t making enough money, even though the company had openly refused attempts to monetize their content. I saw re-org after re-org, double-downs and retractions, the cutting of essential components of the publishing process (copyediting! design!) down to the barest essentials, and horribly handled nightmares of layoff notifications. And again, that was just in six years. Every time, I wondered if my department was next.”
A natural follow-on from the above story, sadly. Let’s hope, following the CNET debacle over the past few weeks, that the emphasis will be on the AI ‘helping’ and not ‘doing with no oversight’. Mind you, auto-published BuzzFeed quizzes could bring hilarious results…
“We can’t just chuck diamonds on something and expect rich people to fall for it,” says Kate Reardon, EiC of Times luxury magazine Luxx. They along with the FT and New Statesman Media Group are seeing no let-up in demand for their luxury commercial offerings. It’s not like energy bills are worrying this target market, then. Just the tax man. Oops!
Whilst there’s been a lot of buzz around newsletters over recent years, and plenty of informative content on how to make them a success, there’s been a lack of focus on the real value of newsletters. Madeleine White asks a mix of newsletter experts about how publishers can maximise the value of their newsletters.
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On this week’s episode, Dexerto CEO Josh Nino tells us about how the esports-focused publication went about carving a foothold in a competitive market that is often unfriendly to newcomers. He also talks about where a publication like Dexerto looks to grow revenue and audience – and whether those opportunities are universal for all digital publications – and what he thinks is the future of sports and esports-related communities online.