The logo of the mass media company Vox Media

Vox Media Becomes the Latest Callous Company To Do Mass Layoffs via Email

Friday was a sad day for numerous talented professionals impacted by Vox Media’s mass layoffs. Vox reportedly laid off 7% of its workforce and eliminated an estimated 130 jobs. While the name Vox Media may not be familiar to everyone, most individuals are likely to have come into contact with its numerous subsidiaries. The mass media company operates several prominent news brands including Vox, The Verge, Polygon, New York magazine, Eater, and Thrillist. Hence, staffers across multiple news sites have been impacted by the layoffs. Employees in the Revenue, Editorial, Operations, and Core Services divisions of these brands were particularly hard hit.

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Stories are already circulating on social media and giving faces to the 130 employees impacted by the massive layoffs. Many of those laid off were long-term senior writers, correspondents, podcasters, or freelance writers who were passionate about their work.

Even those who were not directly impacted by the layoffs reiterated feeling devastated, angered, and heartbroken as they lost many talented colleagues. They were both saddened and angered on the behalf of their friends and colleagues for the callous way in which the layoffs were handled.

Most offered condolences and well-wishes for those laid off, and some editors also took the opportunity to recommend their talented writers who abruptly found themselves in need of work.

Some news sites, such as Stumptown Footy, also received news that Vox Media would no longer be supporting or monetizing the brands as a whole.

Many staffers expressed not even knowing what Vox Media media withdrawing support and monetization meant for the site as a whole and its future, meaning the full impact of Vox’s decision may not be felt for a while yet.

What are the Vox Media layoffs?

Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff announced the massive layoffs in a memo to employees sent out Friday morning. The memo reiterated that the company was eliminating 7% of its staff roles and cited the “challenging economic environment” as the cause of the layoffs. What particularly shocked many about the memo, was that it told employees they would receive news of their layoffs within 15 minutes of the memo going out. Thousands of employees punched into work that day only to be met with an anxiety-inducing memo that they might be fired in 15 minutes. The memo also explained that the sheer number of layoffs meant they had to notify those impacted by email, but that they would receive an HR meeting later.

Bankoff went on to explain that the company had tried cost-cutting measures, including suspending new hiring, but that the “economic climate” called for them to scale back more and depart from projects and areas that weren’t performing well.

What do Vox’s layoffs mean?

Many tech and media companies, like Vox, have been experiencing massive layoffs due to the condition of the economy. Many anticipate that the economy is headed for a recession and are preparing for such. As a result, advertisers are slowing their spending, meaning media and tech companies are experiencing a decline in ad revenue and, thus, laying off much of their staff to compensate. In addition to Vox, companies like Google, Microsoft, Gannett, CNN, NBC News, Amazon, and more have been implementing massive layoffs. In fact, Vox already had eliminated 2% of its workforce in July, making this latest layoff the second round in just half a year.

What’s ironic is that just a day before announcing the layoffs, Vox published an article titled, “The empty threat of a white-collar recession.” The subheading read, “Layoffs in media and tech don’t mean you’re getting laid off, too.” In the article, the author argued that the labor market is actually in pretty good shape and that the “mass layoffs” we’ve been hearing of only represent a tiny sliver of the workforce. Of course, given Vox’s announcement today, the article hasn’t aged well and will no doubt renew white-collar fears of unemployment.

One common question in the discourse of Vox’s layoffs was just how effective they actually are in cost-cutting. One writer who had been laid off explained they were a freelancer who made $190 a month doing work for a news site on their own time. Writer Clair Watkins suggested that the cuts weren’t about saving money when Vox was literally laying off freelancers who make a meager hundred bucks or so a month writing for a company out of passion.

One can’t help but wonder about the salaries of Bankoff and other executives at Vox and whether cutting those down would’ve been more effective than snatching away the modest earnings of freelancers, staff writers, and more.

(featured image: Vox Media)

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.