NPR Cuts Roughly 10 Percent of Workforce Amid ‘Darkened’ Financial Outlook

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
February 24, 2023Business News
NPR Cuts Roughly 10 Percent of Workforce Amid ‘Darkened’ Financial Outlook
The headquarters for National Public Radio (NPR) is seen in Washington, on Sept. 17, 2013. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

The National Public Radio (NPR) is cutting roughly 10 percent of its current workforce as the network’s financial outlook recently “darkened considerably” amid declining advertising revenue, NPR’s executive officer announced on Thursday.

“At a time when we are doing some of our most ambitious and essential work, the global economy remains uncertain. As a result, the ad industry has weakened and we are grappling with a sharp decline in our revenues from corporate sponsors,” CEO John Lansing wrote in a memo to staff obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.

The public broadcaster is joining a slew of media and tech companies that have recently eliminated positions as the financial outlook of the industries faces uncertainty.

In his memo, Lansing said NPR expects a budget shortfall of at least $30 million, despite the company creating a plan to address a $20 million sponsorship revenue falloff for the fiscal year 2023.

Lansing also noted that NPR “fought hard to avoid this” by previously cutting $14 million in expenses, including freezing a majority of its vacant job postings, suspending paid internships, as well as restricting non-essential travel. However, those cuts proved insufficient.

“To address the growing deficit, we need to further reduce our spending. With approximately 65 percent of our budget supporting personnel costs, we will need to eliminate many of the vacant positions that have been frozen. We will also need to reduce filled positions by approximately 10 percent,” Lansing said, adding that he hoped to be able to announce “final decisions about the position reductions by the week of March 20.”

“When we say we are eliminating filled positions, we are talking about our colleagues—people whose skills, spirit, and talents help make NPR what it is today,” he added. “This will be a major loss.”

The cuts will impact about 100 employees in total, according to an NPR report.

It is the first time since 2008 that the public broadcaster announced a steep job cut due to budget shortfalls. During that financial crisis, the network cut roughly 7 percent of its workers and also eliminated two of its shows, “Day to Day” and “News & Notes.”

The shows were canceled because they failed to attract “sufficient levels of audience or national underwriting necessary to sustain continued production under these tough financial circumstances,” Dennis Haarsager, the network’s former executive vice president, wrote in a memo to staff at the time.

NPR is not the only news media outlet that recently announced it will slash several positions in cutbacks. Other networks include Vox Media, Adweek, The Washington Post, and NBC News.

According to a Jan. 24 note addressed to staff from The Washington Post executive editor, Sally Buzbee, at least 20 newsroom staffers were terminated, and 30 open positions will not be filled.

CNN, Vice Media, and Morning Brew, also all laid off staffers at the end of 2022, while Politico’s tech news site, Protocol, folded.