Zephyr Teachout

Peter Haskell/WCBS 880

Teachout: Control Of Ad Market By Google, Facebook Is Decimating Journalism

July 25, 2018 - 3:41 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- A round of massive layoffs at the New York Daily News this week has state attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout talking about preventing similar events in the future.

Standing in front of the Daily News offices, Teachout noted what happened at the Daily News has become all too common.

“Local news is being decimated, but it’s not because nobody’s making a profit off of local news,” she said. “It’s just that it’s Google and Facebook who are making the money.”

Teachout said the two behemoths are using the power of their size to set profits ahead of journalism.

“Nearly 100 percent, closer to 99 percent, of new digital ad revenue was going to Google and Facebook a lot,” she said.

The Democratic candidate for attorney general wants to pursue anti-trust remedies. She called the companies "parasites."

“We should explore breaking up these companies to allow for healthy ad markets,” she said.

Teachout would not say if public officials should have stepped in before the layoffs were announced.

Reports at the paper said staffers were called into a meeting at around 9 a.m. and told about the massive round of layoffs. The New York Times reported the meeting lasted no more than a minute Monday morning. Daily News staffers learned they would no longer have a job by the end of the day.

The paper’s parent company, Tronc, said in an email that in addition to reducing its editorial team by “approximately 50 percent,” it would also be “refocusing much of our talent on breaking news — especially in areas of crime, civil justice and public responsibility,” the Times reported.

Layoffs happened immediately, but employees will continue to be paid for 90 days. Editor-in-Chief Jim Rich and Managing Editor Kristen Lee were both among those who left.

After the layoffs were announced, Rich changed his job description on his Twitter page from Daily News Editor-In-Chief to “just a guy sitting at home watching journalism being choked into extinction.”

He also tweeted, “If you hate democracy and think local government should operate unchecked and in the dark, then today is a good day for you.”

Tronc bought the Daily News for just $1 last year.