Vox Media wants your money.
The media company is asking its audience for donations for Vox and Recode to make up for falling advertising revenues that have plagued the whole media industry amid the coronavirus outbreak despite record engagement in content. Vox and Recode don’t have paywalls, but New York Magazine and The Cut, also owned by Vox Media, do.
“Even with record audience growth, the media business is not immune to the effects of economic downturns,” said Lauren Williams, senior vice president and editor in chief of Vox and Recode, in a letter posted on Vox. “In fact, right now, when audiences need quality, accessible journalism the most, ad revenue is on the decline as companies move to save money and shrink their marketing budgets.
“This is why we’re asking those of you who enjoy and value our journalism, and have the money to spare, to support our work with a financial contribution,” she added.
In 2018, BuzzFeed introduced a reader contribution feature to help it run its newsroom, while the Guardian newspaper, headquartered in London, has been doing this for several years.
The initial responses to Vox on Twitter weren’t too positive, however. One user wrote, “Lol. nice try. But no way.” Another wrote “Ugh please no.”
The plea comes at a time when a growing number of Americans are finding themselves cash-strapped and without a job. According to the Labor Department, first-time claims for jobless benefits soared 6.6 million for the week ended Saturday, March 28. The unprecedented surge follows a better than 3 million increase in claims the week before.
To date, Vox Media hasn’t made any layoffs or cut salaries like some other companies have been forced to as they try to keep their heads above water amid the coronavirus crisis that has hit media hard. Executives are understood to be currently assessing the impact the pandemic is having on the business and in a note to staffers Wednesday, ceo Jim Bankoff said he plans to update them in a week or so.
“I know you are also wondering about job security and benefits. We are working expeditiously and carefully to understand the impact the crisis is having on our business, with the goal of preserving jobs and healthcare benefits, and attempting to find places for shared sacrifice where possible. We want to be cautious and considered about any decisions we make that impact our team members directly,” he said. “I realize the anxiety this uncertainty creates, especially during these times, so I commit to share more details as soon as it is ready.”
Earlier this week, Group Nine, owner of Thrillist and PopSugar, cut its headcount by 7 percent, or around 50 people. It had previously implemented a 25 percent pay cut, for executives, while chief executive officer Ben Lerer said he would waive his salary for six months.
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