May 15, 2020 / 4:14 PM / 19 days ago

Vice Media lays off 155 employees as coronavirus pandemic wipes out ad revenue

NEW YORK, May 15 (Reuters) - Vice Media Group will lay off 155 employees as the coronavirus pandemic has put a dent in advertising revenue, according to an internal email sent to employees on Friday and seen by Reuters.

The millennial-targeted news and media organization is laying off 55 U.S.-based employees and 100 international staff. The company is also migrating some of its employees to its news division to prepare for a world news section on its international platforms.

The cuts come as the news media industry suffers from an epic drop in advertising revenue as companies cut spending amid the pandemic.

Digital media companies, including Quartz and Buzzfeed, have slashed jobs, furloughed employees and cut salaries in an effort to survive the outbreak.

On Thursday, Quartz announced that it is closing four of its offices, cutting executive salaries by 20% and eliminating 40% of its staff, affecting about 80 jobs. Buzzfeed furloughed 68 employees weeks after reducing salaries for the rest of 2020.

“We aren’t seeing the return from the platforms benefiting and making money from our hard work,” Vice Media Group CEO Nancy Dubuc said in the letter, which also blamed technology companies for the news media’s business problems. “Now, after many years of this, the squeeze is becoming a chokehold.”

Dubuc said in the letter that Big Tech posed a significant threat to journalism. Google and Facebook Inc have also seen drops in ad revenues since the coronavirus outbreak.

Readership across the news industry has reached record highs since the coronavirus outbreak, but advertising revenue has plunged as companies have pulled marketing budgets and some have blocked online ads from appearing on pandemic-related stories.

Vice said laid-off employees will receive severance pay and it will also pay healthcare benefits through 2020. (Reporting by Arriana McLymore; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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