New technology ravages traditional media jobs

A new study reports that planned cuts in U.S. media jobs soared by 88 percent last year — a trend that is likely to continue.

The cause is a rapid shift away from traditional to online media. Broadcasters, newspapers, magazines and other media are all feeling the change.

During 2006, U.S. media outlets announced 17,809 job cuts, an increase from the 9453 cuts announced in 2005, reported Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a major job outplacement tracking firm in Chicago.

The Challenger study, reported by Reuters, found that the announced layoffs were the largest for the industry since 2001, when the dot-com collapse devastated many businesses. The trend from last year has continued into 2007, with more than 2000 planned job cuts announced in January.

NBC Universal, which includes the NBC TV network and Universal Studios films, announced in late 2006 a $750 million reorganization. Nearly 700 jobs will be cut as the company refocuses on digital media and the Internet.

Advertising dollars are following target audiences online as well. While most media companies are building up their Internet sites and distribution to capture the growth, they have yet to offset weakness at their mainstay print or broadcast businesses, the study found.

Spending on Internet advertising is forecast to rise 13 percent in 2007, while network TV advertising will remain unchanged and newspaper advertising will drop nearly 3 percent, Reuters said, citing data from the media tracking firm TNS.