Mic cuts more than 20 people companywide in move to become a “leader in visual journalism”

Mic cuts more than 20 people companywide in move to become a “leader in visual journalism”

Mic laid off 25 employees on Thursday as part of a restructuring that will see the company shift its focus to video and other forms of visual journalism, according to an internal memo.

People across departments were affected by the cuts, but roughly half of the layoffs affected Mic’s newsroom. The layoffs include reporters, editors and people on Mic’s audience and analytics teams. Most of the staffers being laid off were informed Thursday morning.

“We made these tough decisions because we believe deeply in our mission to make Mic the leader in visual journalism, and we need to focus the company to deliver on our mission,” Mic co-founder and CEO Chris Altchek said in a memo to full-time staff Thursday.

The cuts were made, Altchek said, as part of a realignment of resources to various forms of visual journalism, including “premium video” and “tap stories.”

“Visual journalism already makes up 75% of the time that our audiences spend with Mic,” Altchek wrote in the memo to staff. “As new platforms emerge and existing platforms continue to grow, we believe this will become a dominant form of news consumption. Our strategy to realign our resources behind this new market of ‘tap stories,’ in which we are already winning, will set us apart. In addition, we remain confident about our ability to succeed with extensions into the premium video space and already see strong traction with those efforts.”

A spokesperson for Mic said that the company would soon make new hires on the company’s video team, including on-camera correspondents, producers and other visual journalists.

Internally, Mic leadership has heavily emphasized correspondent-led videos for the past several months. In early August, Mic publisher Cory Haik wrote about her excitement for a “visual revolution in journalism” in an article for Recode, the publication of which set off a wave of speculation throughout the company about coming changes.

“Reports of the death of the written word are greatly exaggerated,” Haik wrote at the time. “The much-lamented and much-snarked-about phrase ‘pivot to video’ is, if I’m being honest, somewhat warranted — video advertising is becoming central to every digital media company’s revenue model. But along with the effects on advertising, we’re also massively misunderstanding a pretty critical shift in journalism itself.”

But the pivot to visual journalism is something that Mic leadership has hinted at and considered for much longer. In November, Altchek told Business Insider of his ambitions to move into premium video.

“People like video more than anything else,” Altchek said in that interview.

Last week, Haik announced in a memo to staff a widespread restructuring of the newsroom in order to “unify” Mic’s video teams with its editorial team. In that memo, Haik wrote that “correspondent-forward visual journalism” would be a “significant focus” going forward.

Mic’s pivot to visual journalism comes amid a tumultuous time in the media industry, as publishers continue to struggle with determining how to monetize their news content. Several other media companies, including Vice, Vocativ and MTV, have also laid off staffers to reallocate resources to video.

Mic has scheduled an all-hands meeting on Aug. 24 to discuss the future of the company.

Altchek’s full memo to staff is below:

Team,

Today, we had to say goodbye to 25 very talented colleagues and friends on our full time team. We have done our best to ensure the path forward for each affected individual is as smooth as possible. Saying goodbye to colleagues is difficult, and we’re very grateful for all of their contributions to Mic. 

We made these tough decisions because we believe deeply in our vision to make Mic the leader in visual journalism and we need to focus the company to deliver on our mission. Visual journalism already makes up 75% of the time that our audience spends with Mic. As new platforms emerge and existing platforms continue to grow, we believe this will become a dominant form of news consumption for our audience. Our strategy to realign our resources behind this new market of ‘tap stories,’ in which we are already winning, will set us apart. In addition, we remain confident about our ability to succeed with extensions into the premium video space and already see strong traction with those efforts.

I have never been more optimistic about Mic’s future and potential. Having recently completely our Series C financing, Mic is in the strongest financial position in the company’s history.

Please join me for an all-hands at 3:00 p.m. to discuss further and to answer any questions you may have. 

Thank you for your continued energy, focus and commitment to Mic.

Chris

August 17, 2017, 12:17 p.m. Eastern: This story has been updated.