Earlier this year BuzzFeed announced it was laying off 15% of its staff, or around 200 employees. In the United States this saw BuzzFeed completely dismantle their health, national news, and national-security desks. In the UK 17 employees were laid off while its Spanish operation was entirely shutdown.
BuzzFeed’s news division had come under fire in recent times for publishing an unverified dossier complied by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, that alleged Trump was being blackmailed by the Russian government in January 2017. The publishing of this unsubstantiated allegation led then President-elect Trump to label BuzzFeed “a failing pile of garbage”.
BuzzFeed more recently alleged that Trump instructed his personal lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. This story was denied by the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller who has led the prosecution of Cohen, despite this denial of the story from the source BuzzFeed still stood by their debunked story.
BuzzFeed’s announcement was made at the same time as HuffPost was cutting 7% of staff in its media division, which equates to around 800 employees, including the axing of its opinion section. Vice Media announced it was cutting 10% of its staff, around of 250 jobs across all its departments due to declining revenue.
It seems that there will be thousands of online journalists who will have to find a new job in an increasingly saturated online news market, well news that has a leftist slant. You don’t hear about mass job lays offs at conservative online news outlets such as Breitbart, Infowars, Daily Caller and Daily Wire.
BuzzFeed Australia was not immune from the organisation’s restructure with 11 employees out of its 25 member Australian operation to be cut. Now we know the identities of those BuzzFeed reporters who didn’t survive the cut, and they are pretty senior reporters.
The founding editor of BuzzFeed Australia, now general manager Simon Crerar was the first departure publicly announced on Wednesday.
G’day mates! Some personal news… Like so many talented folks around the world, I have been laid off by BuzzFeed. It has been the most exciting, fun, fulfilling job of my life. I’m sad, but also very thankful.— Simon Crerar (@simoncrerar) February 13, 2019
Then on Friday Josh Taylor who was BuzzFeed Australia’s news editor and left his position at Crikey in 2017 take up the role announced he had taken a redundancy.
~Some personal news~ I’ve decided to take a redundancy from BuzzFeed and today is my last day.
It’s been a dream job, the best team I’ve worked for and a wonderful office so I’m sad, but know it’s time to try something new. pic.twitter.com/3Ho14pGk21
— Josh Taylor (@joshgnosis) February 14, 2019
BuzzFeed Australia’s political reporter Alice Workman was also not spared from the cut announcing on Twitter she was departing the organisation.
After (nearly) three years, sad to say that today will be my last day reporting for BuzzFeed News.
We’ve done some amazing, mad and disruptive things in our short time in #auspol at @BuzzFeedOzPol and I’m really proud to have worked with such a bloody brilliant team.— Alice Workman (@workmanalice) February 15, 2019
Workman’s departure comes at the same time BuzzFeed is being sued by outgoing Labor MP for Lindsay Emma Husar over her reporting of bullying claims against Husar.
Workman published that Husar allegedly performed the Sharon Stone Basic Instinct leg crossing reveal in front of Labor frontbencher Jason Clare and his son which Husar said amounted to “slut shaming”. The defamation case is before the federal court.
Another laid off BuzzFeed Australia reporter Jemima Skelley promoted a PayPal.Me link to crowdfund farewell beers for the Australian team.
HI GUYS not to be ~that person~ but the BuzzFeed Oz team is going out drinking tonight – if you want to send us a beer (or house wine) in solidarity we’ve got a paypal going ❤️https://t.co/EaSazZwSe0— Jemima Skelley (@jemimaskelley) February 15, 2019
Many would consider crowdfunding for a drinking session to be an inappropriate use of such platforms, it should be reserved for those embarking on productive endeavors, or those facing serious illness. The last thing you want to give someone for is to spend it on alcohol.
But nevertheless there were still plenty of leftist fans of BuzzFeed who believe they are serious news outlet who were willing to donate money for a drinking session.
Whether BuzzFeed can still have influence in the Australian news cycle with its reduced news team remains to be seen. But the previous quantity of its clickbait, salacious and misreporting will not be missed.