The Tow Center COVID-19 Newsroom Cutback Tracker

By Tow Center

September 9, 2020
Since March, The Tow Center for Digital Journalism has been collecting data on US newsroom cutbacks that have occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.

News of cutbacks – sourced from news reports, press releases, Twitter announcements – was collected by Tow researchers and supplemented by aggregated lists produced elsewhere. (We are particularly indebted to Kristen Hare for her exceptional work compiling a running list of newsroom cutbacks for Poynter.)




Relevant data was collected into a central spreadsheet that feeds the map and database above. This included:

-The date the cutback was reported

-The outlet affected by the cutback (where known – see note below about chain-wide cutbacks)

-The location of the affected outlet

-The type of outlet (newspaper, digital native, etc.)

-The type of cutback (layoffs, furloughs, etc.)

-A brief description of the cutback

-The number and/or proportion of staff affected (where known and applicable)

-At least one source URL

Where a cutback was reported to a news chain/group, an entry was created for every news outlet owned by the chain/group (details of outlets owned by groups were gathered via manual work and lists sourced from
UNC’s News Ownership project and PressGazette). For example, in May 2020 it was reported that Condé Nast staff had been affected by layoffs, furloughs and reduced hours. Specific details were not provided about which of Condé Nast’s outlets had been affected, so entries were made for all Condé Nast-owned outlets. As such, these entries show outlets potentially affected by cutbacks introduced by their owners and are labeled accordingly in the “Details” section of the table (e.g. a corresponding entry for Condé-owned Ars Technica reads, “Cutback against Condé Nast: 100 staff reportedly furloughed”).

Our map and database are intended to be used concurrently. The map, which can be both filtered for specific outlets, cutback types and owner, as well as searched, provides a geographical visualization of how and where media outlets have been affected by cutbacks. Hovering over a dot brings up limited information about a corresponding outlet.

The text-based database is also searchable and provides additional details. Users can view a brief overview and the source of a cutback by hovering their cursor over the “Details” text (see below).

This database is updated weekly. We are aware that it is not exhaustive and would be grateful for information about cutbacks we have missed. Any updates are also welcome, as many cutbacks have been expanded or reversed since the time of their initial announcement. 

If you encounter any issues with our map or database, or wish to provide additions or corrections, please contact Gabby Miller (

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