BuzzFeed News shuts down, company lays off 180 employees – Chicago Tribune

Pulitzer Prize-winning digital media company BuzzFeed will shut down its news division and cut another 15% of employees company-wide, adding layoffs earlier this year.

BuzzFeed has approximately 1,200 employees in total, according to a recent regulatory filing.

In a memo sent to employees, co-founder and CEO Jonah Peretti said that in addition to the news division, layoffs would take place in business, content, technology and administrative teams. BuzzFeed is also considering cutting positions in international markets.

Peretti said in a memo to employees that he “made the decision to overinvest” in the news division but failed to recognize early enough that the financial support needed to sustain operations was not there.

Digital advertising has plummeted this year, cutting into the profitability of major tech companies from Google to Facebook. Waves of layoffs have rolled through the technology industry and more are expected.

“I have learned from these mistakes and the team moving forward has also learned from them,” Peretti wrote in the memo. “We know that the changes and improvements we are making today are necessary steps to building a better future.”

The announcement comes just months after BuzzFeed said it would cut 12% of its workforce, citing worsening financial conditions. Job cuts were also announced in December.

Christian Baesler, the company’s CEO, and Edgar Hernandez, its chief revenue officer, are also leaving after assisting with the restructuring.

The company will have one remaining news brand, HuffPost, Peretti wrote.

Journalists who previously worked at BuzzFeed lamented the end of the news division.

“I’m tired of it, and proud of the great journalism we did when I was there and after I left,” said Ben Smith, BuzzFeed’s editor from 2011 to 2020 and now editor-in-chief of Semafor.

Smith made the controversial decision in 2017 to publish a “dossier” of information on then-President Donald Trump, though many outlets dismissed it as unreliable and even Buzzfeed said there were serious reasons to doubt the claims. He then wrote that “we have always erred on the side of publication.

BuzzFeed’s shutdown “really marks the end of the marriage of news and social media,” said Smith, author of “Traffic,” a forthcoming history of that era.

BuzzFeed News won its first Pulitzer in 2021, in international reporting, for a series by Megha Rajagopalan, Alison Killing and Christo Buschek about the infrastructure built by the Chinese government for the mass indoctrination of Muslims.

That same year, BuzzFeed News and the International Consortium of Journalists were finalists in that category for an exposé on the global banking industry’s role in money laundering. A former US Treasury Department employee was sentenced this month to six months in prison for leaking the trove of confidential financial reports that served as the basis for the series.

BuzzFeed said Thursday that all of its news division’s work will be preserved and available on the BuzzFeed network. The company is also working to ensure that all ongoing stories will be published and promoted on BuzzFeed properties.


David Bauder contributed to this report.

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