MTV News Shuts Down After 36 Years
MTV News is shutting down after 36 years as MTV parent company Paramount Global undergoes mass layoffs in a bid to reduce costs.
On Tuesday, the media conglomerate said it was cutting its domestic workforce by 25% across units run by Chris McCarthy, the president of Paramount Media Networks and Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios — with some divisions, like MTV News, shuttered entirely.
In a memo to staff, McCarthy said the decision came amid “pressure from broader economic headwinds” now hitting various U.S. newsrooms.
MTV News was launched in 1987 with a show called “The Week in Rock” featuring former Rolling Stone writer Kurt Loder, who quickly became the face of the news division. Its broadcasts became appointment viewing for an entire generation of pop culture enthusiasts in an era before the internet.
Reporters for the network informed millions of fans about important events in music history, such as Freddie Mercury’s death in 1991 and Tupac Shakur’s killing in 1996.
“When Kurt Cobain died, MTV News was where my teenage self turned to keep updated on everything,” one fan tweeted Tuesday, referring to the Nirvana frontman’s death in 1994. “For millennials and Gen X folks, Kurt Loder was basically our Walter Cronkite.”
The news division also covered politics, enticing younger generations to participate. Loder and fellow correspondent Alison Stewart famously held an “Enough Is Enough” town hall in 1994 with then-President Bill Clinton.
That special spawned one of the most memorable pop culture moments of the year when an audience member asked, “Mr. President, the world’s dying to know: Is it boxers or briefs?” Clinton replied, “Usually briefs.”
MTV News went on to hold similar events with politicians like Barack Obama and John McCain, and produced award-winning coverage on topics like the Iraq War.
The division’s popularity waned with the rise of digital publishing and social media, however. MTV News saw significant cuts in 2017, and its online output received only modest attention compared with competitors.
With various American outlets shuttering in recent months, the end of MTV News comes as yet another reminder to audiences that the media ecosystem is changing.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say that MTV News was my primary news source in my formative years,” one person tweeted this week.
“I paid more attention to anything Kurt Loder had to say than almost any other adult in my life. It’s heartbreaking the way media has been allowed to become a total fucking wasteland.”