BuzzFeed cuts UK news operation
By Rob Freeman | 14th May 2020
BuzzFeed has become the latest media outlet to feel the pinch of falling advertising revenues.
The online media firm is ending its news operations in the UK and Australia to concentrate on news which "hits big" in the United States.
Ten staff in the UK have been furloughed by the company with sources saying their departures are likely to be permanent.
BuzzFeed UK's remaining staff will continue to cover news with "a global audience" such as investigations and celebrities.
A company statement said: "For economic and strategic reasons, we are going to focus on news that hits big in the United States during this difficult period.
"We will notify staff in the UK and Australia that we are not planning to cover local news in those countries.
"We want to reach the savings we need and produce the high-temp, explosive journalism our readers rely on."
Originally derided for its reliance on "listicles" after its inception in 2006, BuzzFeed has increasingly become a respected news outlet.
A BuzzFeed UK investigation into deaths allegedly linked to Russia was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 2017 while the site was the first to report on all of the Government's draft documents on the coronavirus lockdown.
BuzzFeed said it was still investing heavily in news, but was spending more than £8million above what it makes this year.
In 2016, the company attracted a valuation of $1.7billion, but in 2018 international revenues fell by 35 per cent and a third of staff were cut in the UK office, which was launched five years earlier.
It is the latest blow to an industry which has seen online readership grow during lockdown but newspaper sales and advertising revenues fall.
The UK's biggest regional publishing group Reach plc, publishers of the Citizen and Gloucestershire Echo, placed 20 per cent of its workforce on furlough and cut wages by 10 per cent last month.
Mark Owen, editor of Punchline-Gloucester.com, said: "This is a difficult time for all of us but it is also a time when the media is more important than ever, to ask questions and keep people informed.
"Advertising is crucial for all media outlets, online or traditional, to keep being able to do this. Advertisers need to keep faith and we will work together to make sure we are all in a position to thrive when the coronavirus crisis is over."
He continued: "Punchline-gloucester.com has grown to more than198,000 readers in April with that record set to be broken this month.
"We'd like to thank all our advertisers and sponsors for their continued support, without them we wouldn't be able to provide you with the quality news feed the way we do. Thank you."
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