As of June 2020, The Athletic had to lay off eight percent of its staff due to the Covid 19 pandemic. According to The Wrap, the subscription-based platform asked the rest of the staff to take a pay cut to stick around.
“With sports on pause due to the ongoing pandemic, today we made the difficult decision to reduce the size of our staff in select coverage areas, affecting approximately eight percent of employees.”
“While we are hopeful that sports will soon resume, this measure was necessary to ensure that the company can weather the uncertainty that lies ahead. Overall, our subscriber base remains steady and we are proud of our newsroom’s continuing coverage of the return of sports.”
A couple of months later, ESPN would announce they would be laying off 300 staffers and will not fill 200 more open positions.
“The speed at which change is occurring requires great urgency, and we must now deliver on serving sports fans in a myriad of new ways,” ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro wrote to employees. “Placing resources in support of our direct-to-consumer business strategy, digital, and, of course, continued innovative television experiences, is more critical than ever.”
On Thursday evening, NBA reporter for USA Today, Mark Medina was a guest in the Lakers Fan Club room on Clubhouse. He was asked where he saw the media business post Covid.
“Yeah, it goes without saying, it sucks. There have been layoffs there [The Athletic]; our place had some furlough. Thankfully, we have not had to lay anybody off, and the, unfortunately, reality, even before Covid, the pandemic, and the economic fall. Our industry has always been disrupted for a while now. First, it was the decline in revenue in newspaper readership, then it was the cord-cutting. How do you offset that loss of revenue with the growth of social media platforms, and online websites. I hate to use this analogy because you don’t want to take it lightly. It is like every outlet is on its own different boat, and sometimes it has been really good at staying afloat,” said Medina.
“And sometimes there have been dents in the boat, and what do the life jackets look like. Unfortunately, not just in our industry but everywhere else with the pandemic and the economy has exposed even more the inequalities with everything.
However, when it comes to the media itself, I believe that two things are going on. One thing which is the positive and there is more of a marketplace of ideas. With social media, you can get your name out there, and good work rises to the top. I think there is an appetite to do more profound stories. But on the flip side, there is some tendency to go the click bait route and over sensationalize all that. Even though there have been many challenges, I think they’re still the good work that is outweighing the bad. Everyone is strapped for resources, and there is never enough time in the day to do the things you want.”
He would continue:
Two, the diversity and inclusion needs to improve it has been that way for a while. There has been some progress, but it still needs to improve. It needs to keep moving forward and there is a fair amount of diversity with viewpoints, life-experience, and where the discussion makers are. There needs to be more of that there, so it is a lot of moving parts, but with all those moving parts the best thing that can help us is to distinguish ourselves and try to make the best of it. Having the work ethic and all of those clichés, having ideas, and continue to do good work. I would also recommend finding good mentors that will give you honest feedback, have your best interest, and have a growth mindset.
“I think that cuts both ways because there have been people who had success and had a good foundation. However, they were just resistant to adapt. On how to tell a story and on different platforms. When you are first breaking into the field you don’t know everything, so have to get experience. I think whether you are just getting into field or been a mainstay, having that growth mindset is key. In keeping you to stay on cutting edge and giving lasting power in the industry.”
Medina throughout his career has had stops at The Mercury News, and the LA Times. He now covers the Lakers for USA Today.