New details trickled out about the layoffs across BuzzFeed’s news division Friday, and the picture hasn’t been pretty: The publication’s entire national news desk has been laid off, as has almost the entire national security team, according to a source close to the company as well as tweets from affected writers and editors.
Yep, it's true. The entire national security desk at BuzzFeed News has been disbanded.
It wasn't around for long, but for a year and a half we punched way, way above our weight and I'm fiercely proud of the work we did here under @markseibel.
— Vera Bergengruen (@VeraMBergen) January 25, 2019
BuzzFeed also closed its international office in Spain, and may hand down further layoffs to writers in the U.K. on Monday. There were also reports of layoffs affecting the BuzzFeed News art department and other parts of the newsroom. Other departments within the company are scheduled to hear about layoffs early next week.
BuzzFeed announced Thursday that it was going to lay off 15% of its workforce across the company, or around 220 staffers of its total workforce of close to 1,500. A BuzzFeed spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a question about the number of staffers laid off in the news division Friday.
CEO Jonah Peretti painted the layoffs as a necessary step to “focus on content that is working” in a company-wide memo. Peretti went on to say that “the restructuring (…) will reduce our costs and improve our operating model so we can thrive and control our own destiny, without ever needing to raise funding again.”
However, some questioned Friday whether the company was really focusing on “content that is working” with these layoffs. BuzzFeed’s national news and national security teams broke some major stories on the Trump administration, Russia’s use of social media to shift public opinions in the United States, and other important subjects.
BuzzFeed wasn’t the only news organization affected by layoffs this week. The Huffington Post also laid off a number of writers Thursday, one day after corporate parent Verizon had announced plans to lay off 800 in its media division. Gannett, owner of newspapers like the Arizona Republic and the Knoxville News Sentinel, laid off writers across the country. And digital sports publication the Player’s Tribune reportedly laid off 12-15 staffers.