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BuzzFeed closes news department, lays off staff | Media Information

In addition to the news department, layoffs will also occur across its business, content, technology and management teams.

Pulitzer Prize-winning digital media company BuzzFeed is closing its news division and cutting 15% of its workforce on top of layoffs made earlier this year.

BuzzFeed has about 1,200 employees, according to a recent regulatory filing.

In a memo sent to employees, co-founder and CEO Jonah Peretti said layoffs will be made across the business, content, technology and administrative teams, in addition to the news department. BuzzFeed is also considering layoffs in international markets.

In a memo to employees, Peretti said he “decided to overinvest in the news division” but failed to realize early on that the financial support needed to keep the operation going didn’t exist.

Digital advertising has plummeted this year, denting the profitability of major tech companies from Google to Facebook. A wave of layoffs has swept through the tech industry, and more are expected to follow.

“I learned from those mistakes, and so did the team going forward,” Peretti wrote. “We know that the changes and improvements we make today are necessary steps in building a better future.”

The company’s chief operating officer, Christian Baesler, and chief revenue officer, Edgar Hernandez, are also leaving after assisting in the restructuring.

The company will now own a remaining news brand, HuffPost, Peretti wrote.

Reporters who used to work at BuzzFeed lamented the end of the news department.

“My heart aches for this and I’m proud of the great journalism I’ve done there and since I left,” said Ben Smith, BuzzFeed’s editor from 2011 to 2020 and now Semafor’s editor-in-chief.

Smith made the controversial decision in 2017 to release a “dossier” of information about then-President Donald Trump, though many outlets shunned it as unreliable, and even BuzzFeed said it had good reason to be skeptical these allegations. “We always make publishing mistakes,” he wrote at the time.

The closure of BuzzFeed “really marks the end of the marriage between news and social media,” said Smith, author of “Traffic,” a forthcoming history book of the era.

BuzzFeed said Thursday that all jobs in the news department will be retained and offered within the BuzzFeed network. The company is also working to ensure that any stories currently in the works will be published and promoted on BuzzFeed properties.

A few months ago, BuzzFeed said it would lay off 12% of its workforce, citing deteriorating economic conditions.

Founded by Peretti in 2006, BuzzFeed, originally known for list articles and online quizzes, has become a serious contender in the news industry, winning a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting in 2021.

But advertisers on which BuzzFeed relies have generally scaled back spending over the years in response to rising costs. Advertising spend is typically one of the most resilient lines of corporate budgets, and it’s often the first to see cuts.

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