Buzzfeed News will shut down its news division with an immediate 15 percent reduction in staff, signaling the end of the outlet’s reign.
Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti sent staff a memo on Thursday, telling employees that the layoffs would impact nearly every division, but that actions had been taken to discuss cost reduction plans with the News Guild.
It also expressed what that would mean for union members affected by the layoffs.
Smith is “heartsick” over the news. “I do think it makes really clear the relationship between news publishers and social media is pretty much over,” he said.
The outlet has been in operation for 12 years. It was founded in 2006 in New York by Jonah Peretti and John S. Johnson III as a digital media company. Buzzfeed is known for viral content such as “listicles” about celebrities and pop culture.
Some of BuzzFeed’s most well-known stories include the now-debunked Steele dossier. This document attempted to prove Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
In a now-deleted 2021 Vanity Fair article, Russian Internet entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev claimed BuzzFeed News libeled him in the contents of the dossier.
The lawsuit was tossed out by a federal judge after he determined the outlet was legally protected in publishing the document. This was immediately appealed by Gubarev. The suit was eventually dropped due in part to the publication admitting that the claims against Gubarev were unverified.
Peretti said that he held himself responsible for not having higher standards for profitability in the news outlet.
He also cited several “challenges” for the outlet in recent years. These include “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.”
Another major challenge was Peretti’s over-investment in the site.
The CEO acknowledged that he had dropped the ball as CEO to adjust to the ever-changing climate online.
The email signs off with Peretti saying, “It might not feel this way today, but I am confident the future of digital media is ours for the taking. 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.”
A “Global All Hands on Friday” is scheduled where Peretti said he would be taking questions.