New podcast explores US public media job cuts

4th July 2024
In a brand new episode of Media Uncovered, we explore why the past 18 months has seen so many job cuts at American public media stations, and what impact these cuts might have. 
NPR HQ Washington DC
The headquarters of NPR public radio in downtown Washington DC, USA. Credit: Ahmed_Janabi /

In February 2023, NPR said it was cutting 100 jobs, or 10% of its workforce. Fast forward to June 2024, and PBS also implemented their own raft of job cuts. Those two announcements have bookended what has been a difficult period for US public media, where job cuts and downsizing has been announced at numerous public media stations: GBH and WBUR in Boston, WNYC in New York, Colorado Public Radio in Denver, Chicago Public Media, and several others.

In a brand new episode of Media Uncovered, we look at the root causes of the job cuts. It is not just happening in the US. PMA’s journalist and researcher, Jamie Tahana gives an overview on the global public media jobs market.

Read more: Pivot to digital amid job losses

So what is causing the cuts in the US? Media analyst and founder of Lookout Local Ken Doctor touches on the digital disruption that has affected all media companies – both commercial and public. We speak with Associate Professor Nikki Usher from the University of San Diego about the precariousness of philanthropy as a revenue stream.

What impact are the cuts are having? Chief Broadcast Officer at the union SAG-AFTRA, Mary Cavallaro, explains how cuts at one station has a knock on impact for staff at other public media stations, who are wondering if they’re next. And we also explore how the demise of local news outlets – both public and private – contribute to news deserts. Sofia Verza, a research associate at the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom, explains what news deserts are, how they’re created, and how they impact audiences’ access to information.

To conclude the episode, we look at what solutions there might be on the horizon, from how management can engage effectively and collaboratively with staff, to what mechanisms governments might be able to wield. And President and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Patricia Harrison talks about why they have just given nearly $1 million to Alaska Public Media for a statewide news collaboration, and whether that could be a solution for public media sustainability and viability in the future.