Credit: Photo by Melany Rochester on Unsplash

Since the start of the 2019, there have been 3,100 job cuts in the US media amid the continuing decline of digital advertising revenue - but one journalist who was made redundant this year is taking a stand.

John Stanton was a national reporter for BuzzFeed News US before being made redundant in January 2019. He launched the Save Journalism Project last month, together with Laura Bassett, a former HuffPost culture and political reporter, to create awareness around continuing job layoffs.

He has seen the impact firsthand, including his local paper the New Orleans Times Picayune who axed their entire staff this year. Not only has this situation hit the livelihoods of reporters hard, it also threatens the free press and news organisation's ability to hold power to account.

"The fewer reporters that you have covering issues from the small to the large, the easier it is for bad actors to get away with things," Stanton explained.

Many news organisations have adapted by diversifying their revenue streams to be less reliant on digital advertising and secure their long-term survival, but Stanton does not believe this is the solution.

Rather than changing to suit the landscape, the project believes in taking the fight to the two companies it blames for the economic hardship of the news industry: Facebook and Google.

Between Google's plans to foster quality journalism and Facebook's plans to help publishers monetise content, both companies have recently shown intent to invest and support newsrooms and democracy.

But Stanton said the focus needs to be on breaking up a duopoly which controls nearly two-thirds of digital advertising revenue combined and absorbs 90 per cent of new digital advertising revenue each year.

"Advertising revenue is the number one way that news outlets pay their employees and these companies are just sucking all the money out of that and they control the entire process.

"They shoulder the majority of the blame frankly for what has happened over the last couple of years," he said.

One of the ways he aims to create a dialogue around this issue is through the ‘Share Your Story’ campaign launched last week. Journalists, editors, columnists and other newsroom professionals can submit their experiences with job layoffs and declining digital advertising revenue.

It coincides with ongoing hearings in the House of Representatives and the Senate with Google, which looks at how competition and innovation have been affected by the growing influence of the tech companies.

Our Newsrewired conference takes place on the 27 November at Reuters in London. Head to newsrewired.com for the full agenda and tickets

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