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There’s another curve to be flattened. But that needs to start now.
Over the past two weeks, we ran Splice Lights On, a survey of the financial conditions at media companies around the world. With the help of our media partners, we put the word out on social media inviting media owners and newsroom leaders to fill in the survey. We had 59 responses.
The survey provides a dire warning of what’s to come:
Covid’s impact on media companies has all of us worried. Advertising has dried up, while newsrooms are doubling down on covering the pandemic, at times putting journalists at physical and mental health risk.
The global community of media — entrepreneurs, journalists, investors, tech — needs an urgent response to this. And that’s why we ran this survey.
How much financial runway is left in newsrooms? How many media jobs could be lost? Our goal was to get a better picture of the financial situation at media companies across the globe, so that we can all make better decisions on where to focus our efforts.
This survey ran from 2-15 April, 2020 and was distributed on social media. As this was an open survey, we were not able to determine the authenticity of responses. The survey is also written in English, and is therefore limited in its reach.
So far, we’ve had 59 responses from 30 countries: Singapore, Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia (with the most number of responses), Brazil, Australia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Nepal, Cambodia, United States of America, Serbia, Ukraine, Vietnam, Lebanon, Jordan, Bangladesh, North Macedonia (formerly Macedonia), Malaysia, Portugal, Thailand, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Japan, El Salvador, Kenya, Ecuador, New Zealand, Brunei, and Argentina.
Most of these newsrooms are small, with staff of under 30. We had a small number reporting staff sizes of above 50.
They are diverse in reach and audience, from community radio in Bangladesh and news in metro Sao Paulo to reporting in the Kibera slum of Nairobi and a community for Cambodian students and young professionals.
Most respondents say they’ve been negatively affected by the pandemic.
In our Splice Lights On survey, barely a third of respondents said they expect to be able to run their businesses with the current cost structure. Most expect to cut jobs.
A majority of respondents said their average monthly operating costs were between $10,000 and $30,000.
Revenue sources were diverse, including advertising, memberships, subscriptions, donations, events, grants, consulting, and syndication.
The hardest hit revenue sources were advertising and sponsored content. Events took the third-biggest impact. Memberships and subscriptions were fourth and fifth respectively.
Full-time staff was the number one cost. Part-time staff was second while office space was third.
This is where it gets worrying. Barely a third of respondents said they expect to be able to run their businesses with the current cost structure. A fifth see a 3-6 month runway.
Over 40% say they expect to cut jobs in the next 6 months while more than a third say they may have to trim jobs.
One third of our respondents say they need help with their operational cash flow, and just over a fourth say they need help with payroll.
Many have already taken steps to cut spending. Measures include
Our global survey to find out more about the state of your finances and what you need in the way of help.
The situation is changing fast. Some newsrooms need immediate near-term support for payroll. Both donors and newsrooms will have to act fast if we were to avert massive job losses. Big media donors and funds are mobilizing rescue support, but these could take 2-3 months to arrive and distribute. In the meantime, we’re also working with Facebook to provide micro-grants to newsrooms. Apply here.
Here are several lists of emergency relief for newsrooms:
Here are some notable grants:
Our mission is to drive radical change by supporting bold, forward-looking media startups in Asia. In order to do this, we report on, teach, transform, and fund newsrooms in Asia.
Our newsletters are read by some of the smartest people in global media.
We’re Alan Soon and Rishad Patel, and there’s more about us here.
The Splice Beta Fund is a prototyping grant that helps news and media entrepreneurs in Asia to quickly ideate, launch, test, and iterate products and services for audiences and customers. See our six grantees here!
Splice Lights On is our way of supporting the media community. We are working with Facebook to distribute $5,000 micro-grants in support of small- to mid-sized news orgs and their freelancers in Asia financially affected by Covid-19. See the grantees here.
Splice Low-Res is our virtual community check-in for media startups. Register, watch, sponsor, or stay in the loop here.
We also have a Telegram group. Come say hi.
Our prototyping grant for media entrepreneurs in Asia to test news products for audiences
The highly prescriptive and opinionated Splice guide to setting up your own email newsletter