BuzzFeed laying off 15% of staff, shutting down news department

Apr 20 2023, 4:59 pm

BuzzFeed is holding another round of layoffs and wrapping up its award-winning news department, BuzzFeed News.

The company is reducing its workforce by “approximately 15%” and cutting roles across its business, content, tech, and admin teams. Acquired by BuzzFeed in 2020, Huffington Post will become BuzzFeed’s exclusive news brand and BuzzFeed News will be shut down.

The media giant is also proposing headcount reductions across some international markets. As a result of today’s news, BuzzFeed’s Chief Revenue Officer Edgar Hernandez and Chief Of Operations Christian Baesler have both resigned.

CEO Jonah Peretti sent staff an email titled “Difficult News” on Thursday. CNN reporter Oliver Darcy obtained it and shared it on Twitter.

In the memo, Peretti says the company can “no longer continue to fund BuzzFeed News as a standalone organization.” In comparison, Huffington Post is “profitable, with a loyal direct front page audience.”

Since the news desk was unionized, BuzzFeed has opened up conversations with the News Guild to discuss options for impacted staff.

“HuffPost and BuzzFeed.com have signalled that they will open a number of select roles for members of BuzzFeed News,” Peretti said. “These roles will be aligned with those divisions’ business goals and match the skills and strengths of many of BuzzFeed News’s editors and reporters.”

Peretti also noted that the changes BuzzFeed’s business organization is making today are “focused on reducing layers in their organization, increasing the speed and effectiveness of pitches, streamlining our product mix, doubling down on creators, and beginning to bring Al enhancements to every aspect of our sales process.”

Conclusively, Peretti shared the factors that led to these decisions — a pandemic, a challenging market, a tech recession, a declining stock market, a decelerating digital advertising market, and ongoing audience and platform shifts.

The CEO admitted he could have managed these changes better despite these roadblocks and that overinvesting in BuzzFeed News may have been a mistake.

“This made me slow to accept that the big platforms wouldn’t provide the distribution or financial support required to support premium, free journalism purpose-built for social media,” Peretti wrote.

“More broadly, I regret that I didn’t hold the company to higher standards for profitability to give us the buffer needed to manage through economic and industry downturns and avoid painful days like today.”

Former and current BuzzFeed staffers and followers are grieving the end of

BuzzFeed News, and lamenting the state of journalism under the threat of layoffs and unquenchable profitability incentives.

The last round of layoffs at BuzzFeed happened in December 2022, when the company laid off 12% of its staff.

In January 2019, hot off the holidays, BuzzFeed laid off 15% of its workforce across divisions, which amounted to around 200 employees. 

After BuzzFeed acquired The Huffington Post in 2020, another round of staff cuts followed in March 2021. Most of the employees slashed were HuffPost imports.

In 2021, senior BuzzFeed editors Tom Namako and Ariel Kaminer and Editor-in-Chief Mark Schoofs resigned after finding out that further staff cuts were in order for 2023.

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