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NPR To Cut 10% Of Staff, Dissolve Most Vacant Positions

National Public Radio, the Washington, D.C.-based non-profit media organization, announced Wednesday that it will lay off 10% of its current workforce, making it the latest media outlet to slash employees as a cost-cutting move. NPR also announced the elimination of most of its vacant positions, citing a loss in advertising revenue.

“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,” CEO John Lansing wrote Wednesday in a staff memo. “This will be a major loss.”

Lansing added that NPR’s financial outlook “has darkened considerably” in recent weeks, leading NPR to make the cuts, which will likely affect more than 100 employees.

“Unlike the financial challenges we faced during the worst of the pandemic, we project increasing costs and no sign of a quick revenue rebound. We must make adjustments to what we control, and that is our spending. We have reached a point where we can no longer protect all jobs,” Lansing added.

Despite announcing a near-freeze on hiring, suspension of most internships, and elimination of travel in November 2022, along with nearly $20 million in cuts, NPR has faced similar challenges as other media outlets.

Plans to make the cuts evenly across the organization and final decisions on which positions the new layoffs will affect will be shared by the week of March 20.

“I don’t anticipate that it would be like a haircut across every division, because that’s just not management,” Lansing wrote. He also committed to making sure job cuts do not fall disproportionately on employees of color.

NPR adds its name to a growing list of media companies that have laid off workers in recent months amid flailing advertising revenue and the lingering presence of a possible recession. In recent months, Vox Media cut jobs by 7%, Gannett and Spotify joined by slashing 6%, and the Washington Post and CNN both experienced layoffs and strategy shifts. International Business Times also laid off a bulk of its employees in 2023.

“I recognize that all of this is deeply unsettling, and I know that this introduces an uncomfortable period of uncertainty,” wrote Lansing in the memo. “We will move as swiftly as possible to provide clarity about the reductions needed, working in consultation with our unions.”

Several current and former employees shared their thoughts on Wednesday’s announcement on Twitter, offering their condolences and advice to their soon-to-be former colleagues.

“My heart is with all my former colleagues at @NPR,” wrote Lulu Garcia-Navarro, a former popular NPR host and current New York Times opinion contributor.

A podcast producer at NPR, Brandon Carter shares his thoughts on Wednesday’s news.

There were those who celebrated the announcement, including Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo.

“It’s time to end any taxpayer funding of NPR,” wrote Boebert, amplifying a common belief from conservatives that the public media organization is too biased to receive government funding.

In January 2022, posted an opinion piece from Tucker Carlson that noted NPR’s “hyper-woke employees.” Carlson described NPR as “thoroughly radicalized.”

The majority of funding for NPR is generated through corporate underwriting and dues and fees paid by member stations.

NPR, which was founded in 1971, had a net income of $29.99 million in 2021.