Two of the world’s major online newspapers the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed have announced massive layoffs of their journalistic staff this week.
The Huffington Post’s parent company Verizon announced last Wednesday that it was cutting 7% of staff in its media division, which equates to around 800 employees.
The opinion section of the Huffington Post was completely cut with its editor Bryan Maygers among the causalities. The last major opinion he gave was abusing the Convington Boys for attending the March for Life which he deemed a misogynist event.
Hours later BuzzFeed, based in the United States announced that it was laying off 15% of staff, or around 200 employees. The layoffs see BuzzFeed
completely dismantle their health, national, and national-security desks.
The Huffington Post, founded in 2005, and BuzzFeed, founded in 2006 had become two of the most well established internet news outlets, however like the rest of the legacy mainstream media, they had a far left progressive editorial line which was pushed in all its reporting.
Both outlets capitalized on their early success by establishing international editions, including here in Australia. The Huffington Post’s venture into Australian journalism failed, while BuzzFeed Australia has managed to become an integrated part of the Australian press corps.
While the Huffington Post had a reputation for harder news, BuzzFeed was known for its clickbait, salacious and outrage merchant content. It would often repost viral content, compile lists of popular internet trends and generated much of its traffic through its content being shared on social media.
The BuzzFeed news division had come under particular scrunity for its publishing of unverified allegations against politicians and public figures. Most infamous was their publication of Trump-Russia 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 recently once again published an unverified claim against President Trump that he 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.
In Australia BuzzFeed and it’s political reporter Alice Workman are being sued by Labor MP Emma Husar over allegations it published that she performed the Sharon Stone Basic Instinct leg crossing reveal in front of Labor frontbencher Jason Clare and his son.
Not surprisingly President Trump has blamed the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed’s reporting of fake news and all round bad journalism for the job losses, predicting more layoffs will occur throughout the mainstream media.
“Ax falls quickly at BuzzFeed and Huffpost!” Headline, New York Post. Fake News and bad journalism have caused a big downturn. Sadly, many others will follow. The people want the Truth!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2019
BuzzFeed had attempted to avoid the need to lay off staff by selling subscriptions which offer an exclusive newsletter and some paywalled content, but not enough of its readers thought it was worth paying for.
To cap off a bad week for the mainstream media Gannett, the United States’ largest newspaper chain also announced dozens of lay offs, with total layoffs across the journalism profession in the US exceeding 1,000 employees.
Other mainstream media outlets have commented on these layoffs that the future of digital journalism, and investigative report units is now in question.
But the real story is this, the centre-left online news market is saturated, and there aren’t enough people in the wider public with these opinions to make all these publications profitable. Plus the fact that these outlets have been consistently exposed for fake news has not helped them gain credibility and integrity.
HuffPost and BuzzFeed follow their legacy media counterparts around the world in layoffs and cost cutting for the same reasons. In Australia Fairfax Media after years of annual losses and job cuts has ended up merging with the Nine Network, yet the merged company still has a progressive left editorial line.
If these media outlets want to survive they need to better cater for news consumers, including those with non-leftist views, regain their journalistic integrity and actually make their followers want to support their work.