Southern California News Group layoffs have been expected for a while, as the group of daily newspapers has been struggling to increase revenue in the changing media landscape.
An influential media player in Southern California, Southern California News Group (SCNG) operates 11 daily newspapers and associated web sites. A subsidiary of Digital First Media Inc., its publications include the Daily Breeze, the Orange County Register, and the Los Angeles Daily News. There has been a string of job losses in this industry due to declining revenues and the rise of digital media. As a result of these changes, print media layoffs are expected to continue in 2018.
The reported SCNG Layoffs in 2018 shall impact the Orange County Register and the Los Angeles Daily News. The Press-Enterprise, the Daily Breeze, and the San Gabriel Valley Tribune are some of the publications that are safe for now, but layoffs are expected to occur at these papers eventually. The group’s management made the “involuntary terminations” announcement in its meetings held with these publications.
Executive editor Frank Pine said that SCNG layoffs in 2018 shall begin with the sports, features, and photo sections in January and will hit the news section next month. In March, the layoffs shall be carried out in the design section.
Southern California News Group Eliminated Positions Via Buyouts in August 2017
Last year, SCNG had offered a buyout plan to newsroom staff, which led to a significant elimination of positions. This year, it is expected that positions shall be eliminated across all 11 newspapers. Management had said at the time that it was too early to say how many people or positions will be affected and they were hopeful that there would be enough takers for the voluntary separation package so as to avoid layoffs.
But as the news of SCNG layoffs proves, Southern California News Group’s buyouts in 2017 were not sufficient in improving the financials and are likely to continue in 2018 as well.
Newspaper Industry on Decline as Digital Media Surges
The newspaper industry’s decline is evident across the U.S. as many publications have been struggling with traffic growth and ad revenue. Print media is struggling with the rise of digital media, which has been taking the lion’s share of traffic and advertising revenue.
A Pew Research Center study shows that total weekday circulation for U.S. daily newspapers, both print and digital, fell by eight percent in 2016, which was the 28th consecutive year of declines. The overall decline in circulation also coincided with double-digit decline in advertising revenue for the industry as a whole. The total ad revenue for the industry in 2016 stood at $18.0, billion which was almost a third of what it was just 10 years ago.
The Future of Print Media
The rise of the Internet and technology giants like Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) have completely changed the way news is consumed today. Even large publications are struggling in this era of increasing online advertising and mobile usage. Southern California News Group’s layoffs are a part of this trend, which is unlikely to stop anytime soon as newspaper brands struggle to stay afloat and attempt to restructure themselves for the digital era.
“OC Register and other Digital First Media newspapers face ‘significant’ layoffs,” Los Angeles Times, January 15, 2018.
“Despite subscription surges for largest U.S. newspapers, circulation and revenue fall for industry overall,” Pew Research Center, June 1, 2017.