After hard cutbacks, media company Buzzfeed puts an end to Buzzfeed News, once one of the pioneers in the field of online journalism. This has been announced by CEO Jonah Peretti. The closure of the previously successful news platform is part of a larger cutback at the company. 180 employees, about 15 percent of the workforce, will receive their congé.
“The layoffs are in virtually all areas of the company and we have determined that the company can no longer fund Buzzfeed News as a standalone organization,” a reportedly emotional Peretti told staff. “Extremely painful.”
Although Buzzfeed is perhaps best known to the general public for the funny pictures and quizzes that help you determine which Disney princess you are, Buzzfeed News is a strong journalistic brand. The platform managed to attract many well-known journalists and won several journalistic awards, including a prestigious Pulitzer Prize in 2021 for reporting on re-education camps for Uyghurs in China.
Declining advertising revenue
“Our industry is suffering and gearing up for a resurgence,” Peretti writes in an internal memo. “Today we are hurting, but we will fight our way to a brighter future.”
In the memo, the CEO explains that he previously put too much money into Buzzfeed News, only to find out later that there simply aren’t enough resources to keep things going. “I have learned from these mistakes and the team that stays on has also learned from them,” said Peretti. “We know that today’s changes and improvements are necessary for a better future.”
The cutbacks and rounds of layoffs are not unexpected. Like many media companies, Buzzfeed has been hit hard by declining online advertising revenues after years of cash splashing at the baseboards.
Nevertheless, employees and several former Buzzfeed News reporters – who now work for quality media such as The New York Times and The Financial Times – react with dismay to the closure. “A terrible day,” responds former editor-in-chief Mark Schoofs, who decided to leave after a recent round of cuts. “Buzzfeed News has gotten people out of jail, changed laws, and gotten sexual misconduct offenders fired,” he recalls the platform’s reporting.
“I’m sick and tired of it,” says former editor-in-chief Ben Smith, under whose leadership Buzzfeed News was the first to reveal in 2017 about the file on then-President Trump by British former spy Christopher Steele. “I’m proud of the great journalistic work we did while I was there, and the work that was done after I left,” said Smith, who became a New York Times high profile media columnist in 2020 and currently heads to news startup Semafor.
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