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BuzzFeed cutting jobs

United States news and entertainment media outlet BuzzFeed is shrinking and shifting the focus of its Pulitzer prize-winning news division as the digital media company, best known for its light-hearted lists and quizzes, strives to increase its profitability.

The New York-based company is offering voluntary buyouts in its high-profile, 100-person newsroom and some top editors are leaving. They include Mark Schoofs, the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed News, and Deputy Editor-in-Chief Tom Namako, who announced a move to NBC News Digital in late March. Ariel Kaminer, the executive editor for investigations, is also leaving.

BuzzFeed News is unprofitable but has won awards, including its first Pulitzer last year, and its staff has been regularly poached by traditional news organisations. BuzzFeed spokesman Matt Mittenthal said about 35 news staffers were eligible for the buyouts, but the company does not expect all of them to take one.

Beyond the newsroom buyouts, the company also said it is cutting 1.7 per cent of its staff. In a January filing with securities regulators, Buzzfeed said it had 1,524 US and international employees, so the cuts would amount to roughly 25 people.

BuzzFeed’s shares have dropped more than 40 per cent since the company went public in early December via what’s known as a SPAC, merging with a company that already trades, rather than an IPO.

The company had a solid year in 2021, it reported on March 22 in its earnings release. Its revenue rose 24 per cent to US$397.6 million, thanks to increases in e-commerce and advertising revenue, and its profit more than doubled, to US$25.9 million.

But it expects revenue to drop in the current quarter if it includes the acquisition of Complex Networks, a group of pop culture sites that BuzzFeed acquired last year. The lay-offs, separate from the news division, will come from BuzzFeed Video and the editorial side of Complex.

BuzzFeed also acquired HuffPost in early 2021, and laid off several dozen of its staffers shortly after.

On BuzzFeed’s March 22 earnings call, CEO Jonah Peretti said the company is accelerating its investment in vertical video, the smartphone format used on the increasingly popular video-sharing site TikTok.

As for the news division, it “will need to get smaller,” and “prioritise the areas of coverage our audience connects with most,” Peretti said in a memo to employees.


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