BuzzFeed Cuts Jobs, Top Writers Leave News Division | Economic news

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By TALI ARBEL, AP commercial writer

BuzzFeed is shrinking and shifting the focus of its Pulitzer Prize-winning news division as the digital media company, best known for its playful listings and quizzes, strives to increase profitability.

The New York-based company is offering voluntary buyouts in its high-profile 100-person newsroom and some editors are leaving. Among them are Mark Schoofs, the editor of BuzzFeed News, and associate editor Tom Namako, who announced his move to NBC News Digital on Tuesday. Ariel Kaminer, the editor of Investigations, also departs.

BuzzFeed News is unprofitable but has won awards, including its first Pulitzer Prize last year, and its staff have been regularly poached by mainstream news outlets. BuzzFeed spokesperson Matt Mittenthal said about 35 people were eligible for buyouts, but the company doesn’t expect all of them to accept any.

Redemptions will be offered to news staffers from the investigative, inequality, politics, and science teams, as BuzzFeed focuses more on big, breaking news and lighter content.

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“We had the freedom to chase crazy, impossible stories,” BuzzFeed News investigative reporter Rosalind Adams tweeted. “It’s a sad day to see @BuzzFeedNews walk away from valuing this work.”

Beyond the newsroom buyouts, the company also said it was cutting 1.7% of its workforce. In a January filing with securities regulators, Buzzfeed said it had 1,524 U.S. and international employees, so the cuts would amount to about 25 people.

BuzzFeed shares have fallen more than 40% since the company went public in early December through what’s called a SPAC, merging with a company that’s already trading, rather than an IPO.

The company had a strong year in 2021, it reported Tuesday in its earnings release. Its revenue increased 24% to $397.6 million, driven by increased e-commerce and advertising revenue, and its profit more than doubled to $25.9 million .

But he expects revenue to decline in the current quarter if he includes the acquisition of Complex Networks, a group of pop culture sites that BuzzFeed acquired last year. The separate news division layoffs 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 employees soon after.

During BuzzFeed’s earnings call on Tuesday, CEO Jonah Peretti said the company was accelerating its investments in vertical video, the smartphone format used on increasingly popular video-sharing site TikTok.

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

On the earnings call, he said the company needed to make BuzzFeed News “a bigger financial contributor to big business,” and that would mean focusing on big news, culture and entertainment, celebrities and “life on the internet”. ”

Shares of Buzzfeed Inc. rose 32 cents, or 6.5%, to close Tuesday at $5.27.

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