'Gutted' BuzzFeed employees reveal full extent of redundancies

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 26 January 2019
One BuzzFeed journo left this message on the mirror after the redundancies were announced

Dozens of BuzzFeed employees have taken to Twitter to share their reactions to the news around 220 staff will be made redundant.

In a series of tweets, BuzzFeed journalists have described the situation as "agonising," "heartbreaking," and "surreal".

It was revealed on Friday that BuzzFeed would axe 15% of its global workforce after failing to diversify its revenue. More details have now emerged with redundancies made in the New York office impacting the entire national desk, which specialises in long-term features, the health desk, the national security desk and the entertainment team.

The website's LGBT desk, an area of coverage in which BuzzFeed News had invested significant resources, has been left with only one staffer in the New York office, according to CNN.

Likewise, in the UK 17 of 37 editorial roles will be cut from the London office with majority of losses coming from the UK buzz team, and also cuts to news and celebrity teams.

AdNews understands the Australian operations will be notified this week on their roles.

One BuzzFeed employee, David Mack, said he was "broken" to hear about the "horrifyingly large chuck" of the news team being axed.

Ex-BuzzFeed employees have also shared their condolences for staff impacted by redundancies.

Punkee editor Tahlia Pritchard, who previously worked at BuzzFeed, wrote on Twitter: "It’s hard to comprehend the amount of smart/witty/clever/hard working people BuzzFeed has cut today, with more to come. Thoughts go out to all the amazing people who lost their jobs, because the calibre of talent is so bloody high."

CEO Jonah Peretti said in an all-staff email that the cuts were necessary to "focus on content that was working" as well as lower costs and maintain growth.

However, some questioned if Peretti was really focusing on the right type of content or just pivoting to softer news, with the journalists cut credited for major stories on Trump's administration, Russia's involvement in the US election and LGBTQI issues.

https://twitter.com/jscros/status/1088883318974599169

Last week's layoffs come a little over a year after BuzzFeed cut about 100 employees, including a handful from the Australian office, after it missed its 2017 revenue target.

The media company has been experimenting with other streams of revenues, including a subscription service, introducing banner ads and piloting a membership model that asks readers to chip in with donations.

The news of editorial layoffs at BuzzFeed follows a challenged week for the news industry overall with HuffPost also making redundancies.

In 2018, AdNews predicted the digital media bubble was beginning to burst as other companies, such as Vice, missed their financial targets. It seems this trend will continue in 2019 as digital publishers begin to face the same revenue problems that have plagued traditional print media for the last decade.

In classic BuzzFeed-style, ex-employees have started a crowdfounding page to buy staff impacted by redundancies a beer across Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, DC and London. You can donate here.

Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop us a line at adnews@yaffa.com.au

Sign up to the AdNews newsletter, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for breaking stories and campaigns throughout the day.

comments powered by Disqus