BuzzFeed to close news business and sack 15pc of workforce

21 Apr 2023

A BuzzFeed News room in New York in 2015. Image: Anthony Quintano (CC BY 2.0)

BuzzFeed’s CEO said the company is working to become a more ‘agile and focused business’ that can bring in more revenue.

Viral content company BuzzFeed is shutting down its award-winning news division, along with plans to cut 15pc of staff across the company.

The job losses will occur across BuzzFeed’s business, content, tech and admin teams, along with the closure of its news division, according to a memo by BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti.

In the memo – which was shared on Twitter – Peretti said the measure is part of plans to become a more “agile and focused business” that can bring in more revenue. The company’s news efforts will be focused on HuffPost, the news website that BuzzFeed acquired in 2020.

Peretti said HuffPost has a “profitable” brand and a “highly engaged, loyal audience” that is less dependent on social media platforms. Huffpost and BuzzFeed plan to open a number of “select roles” for BuzzFeed News staff members.

BuzzFeed’s leadership is also being impacted by the job cuts, as CRO Edgar Hernandez and COO Christian Baesler are exiting the company.

The current job cuts follow on from BuzzFeed’s decision to cut 12pc of its staff last December. It is reported that the company currently has around 1,200 employees.

Peretti said the company has faced “more challenges than I can count” in the past few years, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, a tech recession, a “tough economy” and issues in the advertising market.

“Dealing with all of these obstacles at once is part of why we’ve needed to make the difficult decisions to eliminate more jobs and reduce spending,” Peretti said.

BuzzFeed founded its news division in 2011. It eventually became a genuine contender in terms of political and investigative journalism.

The site won a Pulitzer Prize in 2021 in International Reporting for its investigation into the infrastructure built by the Chinese government for the mass detention of Muslims.

Peretti said he made the decision to “overinvest” in BuzzFeed News as “I love their work and mission so much”.

“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 said.

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A BuzzFeed News room in New York, taken during a 2015 tour. Image: Anthony Quintano via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic