G/O Media laid off 14 people—less than 5% of its staff—today in what it characterized as a “small restructuring.”
The decision was made amid circumstances caused by the coronavirus, according to G/O, which runs several prominent digital news and entertainment publications including Gizmodo, Kotaku, Jalopnik, Deadspin and Lifehacker. The pandemic has destroyed media companies’ event businesses and digital ad revenue.
“We have made these cuts with the intention to insulate as much as possible the site-specific editorial teams,” said Jim Spanfeller, CEO of G/O Media, in a statement. It wasn’t immediately clear which teams saw layoffs. “We wish only the best to the employees and families who are affected during these uncertain times, and we plan to support them though this epidemic to fullest extent possible.”
Of those laid off, six were members of the union, which WGAE represents, at The Onion. “These layoffs are especially callous in the midst of a global pandemic, and come only a week after management assured us they were taking every effort to avoid layoffs,” the union said in a statement.
G/O Media is the latest media organization to announce layoffs this week, at the end of Q1. Bustle Digital Group said it was laying off about 6% of employees today, while CQ Roll Call laid off about 6% of its workforce on Thursday.
Other media organizations decided to cut back salaries in an attempt to avoid layoffs. It’s a tricky formula to determine, with total annual ad sales forecast to drop by 2.8% across all media, instead of the previously expected 7% increase, according to the latest prediction from IPG Mediabrands-owned Magna Global.
Even though publishers are seeing across-the-board increases in traffic, coronavirus coverage has been difficult to monetize given brand safety concerns.