(New York) The BuzzFeed News site will close as part of a savings plan by its parent company, which also owns HuffPost, the group’s management announced Thursday, signing the failure of a symbol of new media from the Internet era.
“ We are reducing our workforce by approximately 15% today…and we begin the process of closing BuzzFeed News ”, the news branch of entertainment site BuzzFeed.com wrote BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti in a memo addressed to the staff, of which AFP has knowledge.
“While layoffs are taking place in nearly every division, we have determined that the company can no longer continue to fund BuzzFeed News as a stand-alone organization,” Peretti added.
Fifteen percent of the workforce represents about 1,200 people out of BuzzFeed’s total of 8,000.
BuzzFeed stock was down more than 20% Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange after the announcement.
“ HuffPost ”, a former competitor acquired by BuzzFeed in 2020, “ and BuzzFeed.com have indicated that they will open a number of positions to members of BuzzFeed News ”, specified Jonah Peretti.
“In the future, we will have one news brand, HuffPost, which is profitable and has a loyal direct audience on the homepage,” he added.
Launched in 2006, BuzzFeed is considered the benchmark for the new generation of free news sites steeped in pop culture and built on social networks, whose economic model was almost entirely based on advertising.
BuzzFeed News, a variation devoted solely to information and investigation, had taken off in a second phase.
In 2021, she won her first Pulitzer Prize, the most prestigious award in journalism, in the “international” category, for an investigation into Muslim detainee camps in China.
The announcement of the closure takes place in a tense context in the United States for all media, against a backdrop of falling advertising investments. During the winter of 2022-2023, layoff plans took place at CNN, NBC or in the editorial offices of the Vox Media group, owner of the Vox sites, The Verge, or New York Magazine.
Jonah Peretti thus spoke of “ the countless challenges ” his company has faced, including the pandemic but also “ a technological recession, a difficult economy, a declining stock market, a slowdown in the digital advertising market and changes constant in terms of audience and platforms”.
He also pointed to a Spac market, these listed financial vehicles to merge with companies wishing to go public, “ losing momentum which generated less capital ”.
But the co-founder and boss of BuzzFeed acknowledged that he could have “managed better” these changes and “has been slow to accept that the big platforms will not provide the distribution or financial support needed to support quality journalism, free and designed for social networks”.