Journalists picket and protest while mainstream media business falters

Staff from the Washington Post picket in December 2023. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

From Forbes to the Washington Post journalists have taken to the streets with signs and chants as they protest a series of layoffs and buyouts affecting the mainstream media ecosystem.

Why it Matters: Americans’ trust in the mainstream media remains at an all-time low, fueling a profit and advertiser crash for media giants.

  • A Gallup poll in 2022 showed that Americans’ trust in mass media has fallen sharply, with 38% of Americans saying they have no trust “at all” in the mass media. This figure was just 11% in 2011.

New Sources of News: 56% of Americans “often” get their news from digital devices.

  • Of the near 60% of Americans utilizing their devices to inform themselves only 29% are “often” using news websites or apps.
  • 27% of Americans using digital resources prefer to directly search a news topic for themselves, 19% prefer social media, and 9% turn to podcasts.

As a result: Mainstream media platforms are rapidly losing out due to slumping ad revenue and pouring resources into a money-pit which is the streaming business.

  • “Media companies saw a boost in (streaming) subscribers – and stock prices – earlier in the Covid pandemic, investing billions in new content. But growth has since stagnated, resulting in budget cuts and layoffs.”
  • “The strike happening suggests this is a sector in tremendous turmoil,” said Mark Boidman, head of media and entertainment investment banking at Solomon Partners. He noted shareholders, particularly hedge funds and institutional investors, have been “very frustrated” with media companies.”

The changing information ecosystem also means that Americans are becoming more informed about the issues that the mainstream media does not cover in-depth or appropriately.

  • Americans were much more likely to hear about issues such as demographic change from alternative media sources such as X (formerly Twitter), and independent personalities such as Tucker Carlson.

The Takeaway: Journalists will continue to be laid off and made redundant for the foreseeable future as billionaires such as Jeff Bezos, owner of the Washington Post, are no longer interested in paying their salaries. As a result, Americans will increasingly turn to digital news and media sources that can provide them with an alternative message.