On Tuesday, left-wing media outlet BuzzFeed announced that it has laid off 47 reporters, editors and producers from the newly acquired HuffPost in USA. BuzzFeed also said that they would be closing down HuffPost’s Canadian operation due to the ongoing organisational restructuring.
According to BuzzFeed, HuffPost Executive Editors Hillary Frey and Louise Roug have been asked to resign in the latest layoffs. The reporters’ sacking comes just three weeks after BuzzFeed had acquired HuffPost, the media outlet founded in 2005 as The Huffington Post, from Verizon Media.
In a statement, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said to the employees that they would begin to restructure HuffPost to fast-track its path to profitability. Unfortunately, that includes staff reductions, and a number of talented colleagues will be laid off over the next few days, he said. Reportedly, Peretti said losses last year pegged at $20M and would be similar this year without intervention.
“Though BuzzFeed is a profitable company, we don’t have the resources to support another two years of losses,” said Peretti announcing his decision to lay off 47 employees.
HuffPost Canada to shut down, Union condemns arbitrary removal
In addition to restructuring in the United States, the HuffPost Canada will be shut down due to the restructuring.
Following the decision to sack employees, some HuffPost staffers have criticized the decision saying it is arbitrary and comes at a time after an exhausting year of pandemic.
The HuffPost Union, organized as part of the Writers Guild of America, East, criticised the restructuring effort in a statement. The union said the layoffs included nearly 30 per cent of its membership.
“We are devastated and infuriated, particularly after an exhausting year of covering a pandemic and working from home,” the union’s statement said.
Many of the laid-off employees lamented about the job loss on social media and objected to the way they were asked to quit the organisation for which they had worked for years.
Samantha Beattie, a senior reporter at HuffPost Canada, said that Buzzfeed shut down the company without informing them.
Without telling us they’ve shut down our site. pic.twitter.com/3KEndpH82b— Samantha Beattie (@Samantha_KB) March 9, 2021
The Huffington Post, as it was originally called, was launched by Peretti along with the author Arianna Huffington, Andrew Breitbart and Kenneth Lerer in 2005. They started Buzzfeed the following year. However, in November last year, Buzzfeed had bought the remaining stakes of HuffPost owned by Verizon Communications Inc.
Following the decision, BuzzFeed had also decided to shut down the operations of HuffPost in India. The decision had come after the Indian government had capped the FDI in digital news at 26% to limit “foreign influence and interference in India’s domestic affairs, check Chinese and other overseas funding in news sites and create a level-playing field for all media”.