47 people who no longer have jobs thanks to Buzzfeed buying HuffPost

The headline at the NY Post is “BuzzFeed takes buzzsaw to newly acquired HuffPost” and that seems to be pretty accurate.

Just three weeks after finalizing a deal to buy HuffPost, Jonah Peretti’s BuzzFeed is taking a buzzsaw to the left-leaning news and culture site.

BuzzFeed on Tuesday said it made a series of cuts in HuffPost that will result in 47 US jobs lost, including Executive Editor Hillary Frey and Executive Editor International Louise Roug…

Peretti told staffers that the decision was made to “fast-track the path to profitability” for the money-losing website, HuffPost reported. The site’s losses totaled around $20 million in 2020, he said.

Getting fired by Buzzfeed is exactly the kind of cheerful nightmare you’d imagine it would be:

Employees were given a password to enter the meeting — “spr!ngisH3r3,” a variation on the phrase “spring is here.” The staff members were then informed that if they did not receive an email by 1 p.m., their jobs were safe…A BuzzFeed spokesman told The New York Times that the company regretted the password’s tone…

As part of the cutbacks, BuzzFeed closed HuffPost Canada and announced plans to decrease the size of its operations in Australia and Britain, the BuzzFeed spokesman said. At the end of the austerity measures, HuffPost would still have a larger newsroom than BuzzFeed News, the spokesman added.

The site which first reported the details about the password has some reactions from the people being let go.

“This is a bloodbath,” a HuffPost staffer and union member told Defector. “It’s worse than the worst-case scenario for what any of us thought we would see when we got this announcement a couple hours ago. And the f**ked-up way that they announced this notwithstanding, this is a just bloodbath for an award-winning international newsroom full of absolutely stellar journalists who didn’t deserve this.”

“The initial reaction is I can’t believe what little chance we were given to show what we can do to help this company,” the staffer said.

HuffPost (formerly The Huffington Post) was founded in 2005. AOL bought it in 2011 for $315 million. In 2015, AOL itself was bought by Verizon and HuffPost was included as part of that sale. The staff of HuffPost unionized in 2016 but HuffPost has been losing money every year for most of its history. When Buzzfeed agreed to buy it last year there were expectations there would be cuts because Buzzfeed itself had cut staff last year.

Buzzfeed first cut salaries by 5-25% based on income and then furloughed 74 people about a year ago. Fifty of those employees were later laid off. Buzzfeed has now become profitable again, so a turnaround at HuffPost is possible but I wouldn’t count on it staffing back up anytime soon. The market for resistance journalism isn’t what it was a year or two ago.

Plenty of people are having fun at HuffPost’s expense, i.e. suggesting the writers “learn to code.” While I’m not a fan of HuffPost’s content, on a personal level losing a job in this economy is a nightmare I think a lot of people can understand, so I’m resisting the schadenfreude impulse.