March 15, 2023

Meta is a huge company. But it’s about to get smaller. A lot smaller. For the second time in just a few months.

The owner of Facebook and Instagram announced Tuesday major layoffs. How major? About 10,000 employees, or 13% of its workforce. It also will close 5,000 openings.

“This will be tough and there’s no way around that,” company founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a memo to staff.

The memo was a lengthy one, laying out Meta’s plan for the future, something Zuckerberg has dubbed the “Year of Efficiency.”

All this comes just four months after a first round of severe cuts. In November, Meta laid off 11,000 — which was about 13% of the staff at that time.

Zuckerberg wrote Tuesday, “Here’s the timeline you should expect: over the next couple of months, org leaders will announce restructuring plans focused on flattening our orgs, canceling lower priority projects, and reducing our hiring rates. With less hiring, I’ve made the difficult decision to further reduce the size of our recruiting team.”

So why is all this happening and what is Meta’s future?

Zuckerberg wrote, “The world economy changed, competitive pressures grew, and our growth slowed considerably. We scaled back budgets, shrunk our real estate footprint, and made the difficult decision to lay off 13% of our workforce. At this point, I think we should prepare ourselves for the possibility that this new economic reality will continue for many years. Higher interest rates lead to the economy running leaner, more geopolitical instability leads to more volatility, and increased regulation leads to slower growth and increased costs of innovation. Given this outlook, we’ll need to operate more efficiently than our previous headcount reduction to ensure success.”

Ugh. That all sounds grim.

Meta shares rose 6% in early trading on Tuesday. For more on the economics of it all, check out this story from CNBC’s Jonathan Vanian and Rohan Goswami.

Major move for Meadowlark Media

Big news in sports media. Pablo Torre, one of ESPN’s more highly regarded journalists, is joining Meadowlark Media, the content company founded by former ESPN commentator Dan Le Batard and former ESPN big boss John Skipper. Variety’s Brian Steinberg broke the story, adding that Torre is not completely leaving ESPN behind. Torre will still appear on ESPN shows such as “Around the Horn” and “Pardon the Interruption.”

Torre told Steinberg, “They are looking to build another show directly out of ‘The Dan LeBatard Show,’ which is a monster.” Torre said he sees a digital program with audio and video components that will allow him to “tell original stories, do a bit of journalism and figure out how to make that show a home that can fit all of the things I aspire to do creatively.”

Torre has had an impressive career in journalism. He worked several years at Sports Illustrated as a staff writer before moving over to ESPN in 2012. He has worked as a writer at, contributed to such shows as “30 for 30” and once co-anchored a daily show with Bomani Jones called “High Noon.” Most recently, besides regular appearances on “Around the Horn” and occasionally filling in as co-host on “Pardon the Interruption,” Torre has hosted the “ESPN Daily” podcast. He will no longer be its host after he moves over to Meadowlark.

In a statement, Le Batard said, “Everyone in this industry knows Pablo’s work resides at the top of it. He’s an original thinker. A necessary voice. An unimpeachable journalist at a time that could use a few more of those. Very few people his age have his range and his resume. I’m honored and moved that he follows his heart to help us build something excellent. We don’t have to pay him, too, do we?”

Actually, not only are they paying him, but Torre also will receive a small equity stake in Meadowlark. Torre and Le Batard often worked together at ESPN.

Torre told The Big Lead’s Stephen Douglas, “As the father of a daughter, abandoning Disney health insurance to go work with Dan Le Batard is either the best or worst idea of my entire life.”

Another ESPN talent set for big payday

Another ESPN star also could be on the move. Mina Kimes, who specializes in the NFL, is set to be a free agent. New York Post sports media columnist Andrew Marchand reported last month that her new contract “should crack into seven figures when it’s all said and done.”

All indications are ESPN badly wants Kimes to remain with the network and is willing to pay. But she is much in demand, perhaps from pretty much everyone who covers football. The Washington Post’s Ben Strauss recently wrote about Kimes and, in the story, The Ringer’s Bill Simmons said, “She’s been my number one draft pick for a while.”

When Le Batard heard Simmons’ quote, he tweeted, “Line starts behind us, big boy.”

My guess is regardless of where the line starts, it’s a lengthy one. And deservedly so — Kimes is excellent on TV.

A rural Texas paper ends publication after 130 years

For this item, I turned it over to my Poynter colleague Annie Aguiar.

The Canadian Record, a family-owned newspaper that has covered Canadian, Texas, for 130 years, suspended its print operation on March 2.

Publisher Laurie Ezzell Brown will continue to post occasional vital information like weather and wildfire reports, The Texas Tribune’s Nic Garcia wrote, but the definitive weekly report on Hemphill County is no more.

The paper turns a small profit, is debt-free and is family-owned — by Brown’s family since 1948 — from top to bottom, including the building it operates from. But Brown, who is 70 years old, is tired after a lifetime of working for The Record. She’s now searching for a successor.

“I have grandchildren I barely know,” Brown told The Texas Tribune.

The Record’s problems reflect both the decline of local newspapers and the shifts in rural areas in the United States, with populations on downward slides, empty storefronts and isolation contributing to news deserts nationwide.

Almost 3,000 newspapers have closed in the U.S. since 2004, most of them weeklies like The Record. What takes the place of those newspapers are typically ad hoc systems of community information from friends, Facebook and churches, with the partisan misinformation that comes along with informal publishing often creeping in.

“Without a newspaper, our community will die on the vine,” one Canadian resident said.

CNN calling in help

“CNN This Morning” anchors Kaitlan Collins, from left, Don Lemon and Poppy Harlow, shown here last December. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

CNN is already calling in help for its relatively new morning show. Calling it an “unusual step,” The Hollywood Reporter’s Alex Weprin writes that CNN is hiring two executive producers to “rejuvenate” “CNN This Morning.” Weprin writes the two EPs are CNN veteran Lauren Mensch, and Chris Russell, who was in talks for the job. Mensch will lead the editorial direction and essentially be in charge while the show is on from 6 to 9 a.m. Eastern. Russell will help set up the show for the next day.

Weprin wrote, “The producer shake-up comes after a tumultuous month for the morning show, with reports of off-air disagreements between (co-hosts Don Lemon, Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow.)” In addition, Lemon was suspended for two days after saying 51-year-old Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley wasn’t in her “prime.”

Clearly, CNN is still committed and counting heavily on “CNN This Morning,” which debuted last November. Editorially, the show appears to be a success. They get good guests and have solid interviews and conversations. But viewership has lagged well behind Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Weprin writes, “With fresh producers at the helm, the channel is clearly betting that as the 2024 elections slowly begin, the morning show will be in a strong position to return to ratings growth.”

Time to rethink

I have to admit that one of my favorite parts of the Academy Awards telecast is “In Memoriam,” where those in the movie industry who have died over the past year are remembered. (Or, for some of us, it’s the first time we found out someone had died.) This year’s version did have a touching moment as John Travolta introduced it by mentioning “those dear friends who we will always remain hopelessly devoted to” — a reference to the late Olivia Newton-John, who was Travolta’s co-star in the movie “Grease.”

But “In Memorium” is getting to be one of the more controversial parts because of the people who are left off the list, followed by complaints about those left off the list. For example, this year, several popular actors were not included in the telecast, including Paul Sorvino, Melinda Dillon, David Warner, Philip Baker Hall, Cindy Williams and Anne Heche. (In fact, I almost didn’t list some of those left off the list for fear of leaving some off that list.)

Paul Sorvino’s daughter, actress Mira Sorvino, wrote in a tweet, “It is baffling beyond belief that my beloved father and many other amazing brilliant departed actors were left out. The Oscars forgot about Paul Sorvino, but the rest of us never will!!”

This happens every year — enough so that maybe it’s time to scrap the segment. No matter how long the list is, people are going to be left off and feelings are going to be hurt.

Where’s the support?

I heard a good point while listening to the latest episode of “The Press Box” podcast on The Ringer. Host Bryan Curtis and guest Jason Gay, the sports columnist of The Wall Street Journal, were talking about the BBC controversy involving soccer analyst Gary Lineker. After criticizing Britain’s new asylum policy on Twitter, Lineker was suspended by the BBC. But then the weekend soccer coverage was thrown out of whack when so many other BBC soccer broadcasters, as well as some soccer players, boycotted the network to show their support for Lineker.

Curtis and Gay mentioned that there have been some high-profile suspensions of American sports broadcasters. While those suspended might have had vocal support from colleagues, can you remember widespread boycotting or refusals to work in a sign of solidarity?

The most high-profile example might have been the time when ESPN suspended Jemele Hill for two weeks in 2017 after comments she made on Twitter. A month after Hill called then-President Donald Trump a white supremacist, Hill criticized Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who said he would bench any players who “disrespect the flag.” Hill suggested that if anyone strongly opposed Jones’ stance, they should boycott his advertisers.

At the time, Hill was co-hosting “SportsCenter” and her co-host Michael Smith did sit out a show while she was suspended. But there certainly was not a massive boycott and a disruption of coverage, like the one we saw over the weekend after the BBC suspended Lineker.

As Curtis said on the pod, “I don’t remember mass numbers of them saying, ‘If she’s not on the air, I’m not.’”

And, looking back, it’s too bad that Hill didn’t have the kind of support Lineker received from colleagues.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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