BuzzFeed News, the popular online news outlet, is set to cease operations, according to an email sent to employees by BuzzFeed Inc. CEO and co-founder Jonah Peretti. The company will undergo a 15% reduction in workforce across multiple teams, with almost every department affected. However, BuzzFeed News will be discontinued as a standalone entity.
Peretti acknowledged that he had invested heavily in BuzzFeed News due to his passion for its work and mission. However, he expressed regret that the big platforms had not provided the necessary distribution or financial support for premium journalism purpose-built for social media. Peretti also admitted that he had failed to hold the company to higher standards for profitability to give it a buffer during downturns.
BuzzFeed Inc. will move forward with a single news brand, HuffPost, which it acquired in 2020. Peretti noted that HuffPost is profitable, with a loyal and dedicated direct front-page audience. Impacted BuzzFeed News employees will have the opportunity to apply for select roles at HuffPost and BuzzFeed.com.
BuzzFeed News’ Impactful Work and Awards
BuzzFeed News officially launched in 2012 with Ben Smith, a longtime New York City political reporter, as its editor-in-chief. Since then, BuzzFeed News has made a significant impact on the media landscape, producing numerous investigative reports and breaking news stories.
In 2021, BuzzFeed News was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for its series exposing China’s mass detention of Muslims. The Pulitzer Prize is a prestigious award given for excellence in journalism, literature, and musical composition. BuzzFeed News’ reporting on this issue shed light on the Chinese government’s human rights abuses, bringing attention to a critical issue that was largely ignored by mainstream media.
The same year, BuzzFeed News was also named a Pulitzer finalist for its coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. The outlet produced a wide range of reporting on the impact of COVID-19, including stories on the virus’s disproportionate impact on marginalized communities and the government’s response to the crisis.
What This Means for Journalism and the Media Industry
The discontinuation of BuzzFeed News as a standalone entity is a significant loss for the journalism industry. BuzzFeed News was a pioneering outlet that broke new ground in digital storytelling and investigative journalism. Its work on important issues such as the detention of Muslims in China and the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the vital role of journalism in holding power to account and informing the public.
The decision to discontinue BuzzFeed News also underscores the challenges facing the media industry in the digital age. While social media platforms have provided new opportunities for journalism to reach a wider audience, they have also disrupted traditional revenue models and made it difficult for outlets to sustain quality journalism. The failure of big platforms to provide the necessary financial support for premium journalism is a major issue facing the industry.
The move to consolidate BuzzFeed News into HuffPost is a pragmatic decision by BuzzFeed Inc. to streamline operations and focus on a profitable brand. However, it remains to be seen how this will impact the quality and scope of journalism produced by the company.