BuzzFeed jobs cuts "chilling for the whole media industry", says the NUJ
8 December 2017
BuzzFeed is to cut 45 of its 140 staff in London, including 24 journalists who face redundancy.
These cuts are a major blow not only to the staff who face redundancy, but to the whole media industry. BuzzFeed, an international news and entertainments website, was a bright upstart in digital news media, billing itself as the "media company for the social age" and has had a number of influential backers and funders, including Comcast's NBC Universal, which invested £300m last year.
While gaining fame for its listicles, such as the 30 most important cats in 2016, it beefed up its journalism and brought in deputy editor of the Guardian, Janine Gibson, as its editor-in-chief.
Part of the blame for missing revenue targets has been the lack of UK advertising, however according to media analyst comScore, traffic to its site has fallen from 13m unique views at the start of 2015 to 10.3m in October this year.
A report in the Telegraph said it had missed its $350m global revenue goal by up to 20 per cent and last year the UK business posted a £3.5m loss despite doubling revenue to £20.5m.
Last night BuzzFeed's UK media and politics reporter Mark Di Stefano tweeted: " Staff representatives have just briefed BuzzFeed UK staff on management proposal for redundancies. Management proposes cutting 45 roles (business and editorial) from 140 staff."
The company is carrying out a collective consultation on its plans which has to last for a minimum of 30 days. The NUJ is supporting staff affected by the proposals.
Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said:
"The whole union will have been shocked by the scale of what is being put forward and will be rallying behind our members at risk of redundancy. At a time when other organisations are investing in digital for the long term, cutting back staff with these skills seems perverse. The staff are BuzzFeed's greatest asset and I'm sure they will have strong alternative proposals to put forward during the consultation period. The situation demonstrates again the importance of a strong collective voice in the workplace.
As the union is currently battling with redundancies across local newspaper groups such as Newsquest, it is deeply worrying to see such a trail-blazing digital enterprise to be in such trouble. It has sent a chill throughout the whole industry. That is why the union has called for an independent inquiry in the media in the UK. With Google and Facebook hoovering up virtually all digital advertising, there are huge questions to be answered for the future of journalism."
Messages of support included one from Guardian columnist Owen Jones:
Please tweet messages of support to our colleagues at #BuzzFeedcuts or email firstname.lastname@example.org