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Major changes are underway at BuzzFeed News, including Editor in Chief Mark Schoofs stepping down from the helm and giving way to company-wide layoffs.
Early Tuesday morning, the announcement was shared internally, ahead of an earnings report with expectations the company would be in the red during the first quarter of 2022.
“The next phase is for BuzzFeed News is to accelerate the timeline to profitability and undergo a strategic shift so that we will get there by the end of 2023,” Schoofs wrote in a company-wide email obtained and reviewed by Confider. “That will require BuzzFeed News to once again shrink in size.”
Schoofs continued in the email by stating that he hoped buyouts would occur, instead of layoffs.
“We hope to reduce our size through voluntary buy-outs, not layoffs,” he penned. “Also: This is not your fault.”
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Elsewhere in the email, Schoofs wrote that BuzzFeed News will set out under new leadership with the specific goal of being “financially stable.” “Under Jonah’s leadership, the company has subsidized BuzzFeed News for many years,” while emphasizing the “next phase is for BuzzFeed News is to accelerate the timeline to profitability and undergo a strategic shift so that we will get there by the end of 2023.”
The newsroom cuts will impact around 1.7 percent of the shop, BuzzFeed’s CEO and co-founder Jonah Peretti said. Other changes to the newsroom masthead include deputy editor in chief Tom Namako and executive editor of investigations Ariel Kaminer departing the company.
“BuzzFeed News will need to get smaller,” Peretti wrote in his own memo to staff.
During the earnings call, BuzzFeed posted revenue of $398 million, which came in short of a $520 million projection shared with investors. The earnings shortfall indicates that the digital publishing behemoth failed to hit its mark by 31 percent.
BuzzFeed saw itself in a less than ideal financial situation throughout the pandemic, leaving management to cut salaries by upward of 25 percent in March 2020.
“Staffers in the lowest bracket—which includes anyone making under $65,000 annually—would experience a 5 percent reduction, while those making between $65,000-$90,000 would experience a 7 percent cut,” The Daily Beast reported at the time. “Other staff would take nearly a 10-percent pay cut, while executives would take between 14-to-25-percent in pay reduction.”
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