BuzzFeed Australia hit by global job cuts

Mariam Cheik-Hussein
By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 29 January 2019

BuzzFeed Australia is cutting 11 editorial positions as part of a global redundancy round expected to impact 15% of its workforce.

The redundancies were announced last week with journalists in New York the first the be notified. Those impacted, as well as ex employees, described the redundancies as "agonising" and "heartbreaking".

Since then, staff in the UK have been told that 17 of its 37 editorial roles will also be cut and the company has closed its Spanish offices.

BuzzFeed Australia general manager Simon Crerar today tweeted 11 jobs will go in Sydney, while political reporter Alice Workman said every member of its 24-strong news team has been sent a consultation letter as the company looks to “reduce its overall news footprint”.

BuzzFeed Australia, which opened three years ago, has a staff of 40 people.

A BuzzFeed spokesperson said it remains committed to having a presence in Australia, but the company is not yet saying whether it will keep a local news operation.

"We've built a strong brand, loyal audience, and growing business in Australia and BuzzFeed remains committed to building on that foundation for the long-term," it said in a statement.

A decision on whether any news jobs remain in Australia is expected to be made later this week.

BuzzFeed Australia editor at large Jenna Guillaume said on Twitter: “Basically: none of us know if we have jobs or not at this moment. We'll know and be able to reveal more in the coming days. And no doubt be ready to hear about opportunities, jobs, hugs and beer.”

The move by the company raises alarms about the ongoing viability of online news media.

BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said in an email to staff that the cuts were part of a restructure to focus on “content that is working,” as well as lowering costs and maintaining growth.

Journalists who worked on major stories covering Trump's administration, Russia's involvement in the US election and LGBTQI issues have been let go, leading some to question the direction of BuzzFeed's reporting.

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