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Layoffs at Quartz underline how covid is hitting advertising revenue


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Quartz Africa is without any doubt one of the best foreign sources of news on Africa. It has been on top of big tech changes on the continent and has done excellent thematic reporting on some of the key issues facing Africa. It also had an excellent team of reporters.

But it is now facing real challenges. Its parent just announced that it will be cutting its newsroom by about 40% after making big losses. Behind the announcement are some worrying numbers from the company that owns it, Uzabase. In a slide presentation to investors released on May 15th the company showed how paid subscriptions have increased over the past few months (many publications are seeing this as readers pay to get news about covid-19).

New trial subscriptions per week almost doubled since late March and are still above their levels at the start of the year.


But the really worrying news is in the second slide, which shows that advertising revenue dropped by more than half from $5.7 million in the first 3 months of 2019 to $2.6 million in the first quarter of 2020.


The newsroom cuts are expected to hit Quartz Africa.

Abdi Latif Dahir, the bureau chief for the New York Times in Nairobi, wrote on twitter:

"Very sad to read the news of the layoffs at @qz. It was an honor working with a newsroom full of dedicated and wonderful colleagues for three years. Please reach out if there's anything I can do. Love from Nairobi!"

Omar Mohammed, another former Quarz Africa writer who now covers east African business for Reuters, said:


@qz was arguably one of the first American newsrooms with an almost entirely African team at its
@qzafrica vertical. It gave us African journalists a global platform to report our own stories with nuance & sophistication. So sad to see this happen to so many talented reporters.


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