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BuzzFeed News Announces Shut Down

Some staff members will be offered jobs at HuffPost which CEO Jonah Peretti said is 'less dependent on social platforms'

BuzzFeed News is shutting down.

The media website known for its quizzes and AI-written articles announced it is beginning the process of closing down its news division after years of business turmoil.

Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Johan Peretti told the company staff that 15% of its business, continent, tech, and administrative workforce will be terminated as the initial step toward complete closure in a memo titled “Difficult News.”

Peretti said BuzzFeed President Marcela Martin will “take on responsibility for all revenue function effective immediately.”

“The changes the Business Organization is making today are focused on reducing layers in their organization, increasing speed and effectiveness of pitches, streamlining our product mix, doubling down on creators and beginning to bring AI enhancements to every aspect of our sales process,” he said.

“While layoffs are occurring across nearly every division, we’ve determined that the company can no longer continue to fund BuzzFeed News as a standalone organization, “ said Peretti. “As a result, we will engage with the News Guild about our cost reduction plans and what this will mean for affected union members.”

Some writers and editors for BuzzFeed News may be offered jobs at BuzzFeed Dot Com and HuffPost, which Peretti described as “profitable, with a loyal direct front page audience,” and “less dependent on social platforms.”

Peretti told his employees: 

I want to explain a little more about why we’ve come to these deeply painful decisions. We’ve faced more challenges than I can count in the past few years: a pandemic, a fading SPAC market that yielded less capital, a tech recession, a tough economy, a declining stock market, a decelerating digital advertising market and ongoing audience and platform shifts. Dealing with all of these obstacles at once is part of why we’ve needed to make the difficult decision to eliminate more jobs and reduce spending.

But I also want to be clear: I could have managed these changes better as the CEO of this company and our leadership team could have performed better despite these circumstances. Our job is to adapt, change and perform despite the challenges in the world. We can and will do better.

Peretti said he made the decision to “overinvest” in BuzzFeed News because he loved “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,” he told the staff.

Peretti said he regretted not holding BuzzFeed News “to higher standards of profitability” and that the company needed a “strong business to protect and sustain” its “important work.”

The executive noted that BuzzFeed has reduced its real estate holdings as a cost-saving measure, including getting rid of its “footprint in NYC” and Los Angeles.

“It might not feel this way today, but I am confident the future of digital media is ours for the taking,” Peretti said. “Our industry is hurting and ready to be reborn. We are taking great pains today, and will begin to fight our way to a bright future.”

BuzzFeed shareholders had urged Peretti to shut down its news division in March of 2022, citing annual losses of $10 million a year. At the time, BuzzFeed News employed 100 people — one-third of whom were offered voluntary buyouts.

The April 20 layoff will reduce the division’s staff by 180 people.

Founded in 2006, BuzzFeed’s initial mission was to track viral content. Several popular YouTubers – including Safiya Nyggard and The Try Guys – found their initial internet fame while producing videos for BuzzFeed. The company separated its news-focused division in 2018 — the year its staff was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on Russia and claim President Vladimir Putin had his enemies killed on British and American soil.

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