A little more than a week ago, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted how some in the media couldn’t contain their “glee & delight” in reporting that the U.S. has had more coronavirus cases than China. He called it “beyond being grotesque, it’s bad journalism.”
Then, over the weekend, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, responding to a tweet from a Washington Post reporter about unemployment in the U.S., tweeted, “The press HATED that, three months ago, we had the lowest African-American & Hispanic unemployment ever recorded. Now that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic—which originated in Wuhan, not the Oval Office — too many in the press are giddy with glee.”
Actually, what’s grotesque is suggesting that anyone in the media is giddy with glee or delight about anything to do with the coronavirus.
COVID-19 has caused thousands of deaths, including those who work in the media. Hundreds of thousands are sick, including those who work in the media. Thousands of journalists are putting the health of themselves and their families at risk by covering this story.
And, beyond that, few businesses are taking the economic hit that media outlets are. Journalists across the country are losing their jobs or taking pay cuts. Alt-weeklies are shuttering. Some daily papers are no longer printed daily.
All because of the coronavirus.
This isn’t impacting just a couple of papers here and there. The ramifications are being felt all over. In fact, the Poynter Institute’s Kristen Hare has compiled a running list of all the newsrooms that have had layoffs, pay cuts and furloughs because of the coronavirus. The list is stunning, depressing and, unfortunately, not even close to being complete.
The hits just kept on coming Monday with the Dallas Morning News and the papers in the MediaNews Group (owned by hedge fund Alden Global Capital and formerly known as Digital First Media) taking major cost-cutting steps.
In Dallas, the Morning News managed to avoid layoffs, but the paper announced pay reductions for staff.
However, layoffs did hit some of Alden’s papers. The Denver Post laid off 13, including four in the newsroom, and the Boston Herald is believed to have laid off at least a dozen.
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There’s more. NPR announced it won’t have a summer internship program. Expect to see more of those kinds of announcements in the coming days. Poynter media business analyst Rick Edmonds wrote how Gannett’s stock plummeted to 65 cents a share at close Monday.
Poynter’s Al Tompkins reported on furloughs and pay cuts at TEGNA, owners of more than 60 local TV stations in more than 50 markets.
These were just a few to add to Hare’s list, which my Poynter colleague and interim managing editor Ren LaForme said on Twitter was “the worst thing we have ever published.”
Maybe someone else can compile the list of those in the media who are supposedly giddy with glee and delight over the coronavirus. I bet it’s shorter than the list of layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts. And deaths.
Tom Jones is senior media writer at the Poynter Institute, which owns the Tampa Bay Times.