Listen to this article Buzzfeed’s Struggle with Shrinking Newsroom and Increased Demands
Buzzfeed newsroom has been struggling with significant cutbacks and downsizing. The publication’s acclaimed investigations team, science, politics, and inequality verticals were all gutted during buyouts last spring. This left the newsroom much smaller than it used to be and resulted in the departure of top editors, including the site’s then editor-in-chief, Mark Schoofs. Furthermore, founder and Chief Executive Jonah Peretti announced even more cuts towards the end of 2022. Although neither BuzzFeed News nor HuffPost (which BuzzFeed also owns) were impacted by those layoffs, Buzzfeed’s roughly 100-person newsroom downsized by about 40 percent in the past year, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Buzzfeed’s Request for More Content
Despite the significant downsizing, Buzzfeed News Editor Karolina Waclawiak recently requested more content from her already overburdened reporters. She framed her plan to boost the news division’s volume and traffic as part of an effort to shore up profitability this year. Waclawiak acknowledged that there are many things outside of their control, such as the advertising market, the economy, and a recession. However, what they can control is how many stories they publish each day. This request for increased productivity was somewhat ironic, if not inevitable. BuzzFeed is far from the only digital media company grappling with a sluggish advertising market, but it’s also been dealing with a unique slew of other issues.
Buzzfeed’s Unique Challenges
Buzzfeed’s journalistic ambitions appear to have been dulled. Peretti said on an earnings call last year that the company was looking to prioritize “coverage of the biggest news of the day, culture and entertainment, celebrity, and life on the internet.” However, Waclawiak told the Journal that part of BuzzFeed News’ strategy involves pursuing long-form investigations that can serve as the basis for documentary projects.
Despite these efforts, the company’s stock price continues to struggle following its bumpy debut in December 2021. Buzzfeed went public via a SPAC merger but suffered a wave of investor withdrawals before the first day of trading. On Tuesday, the day after BuzzFeed said it expected to generate between $61 and $67 million in revenue in the first quarter, down from the $91.6 million that it reported for the same period last year, Buzzfeed’s stock “lost a quarter of its value,” per the Journal, closing at below $1.
Buzzfeed’s Plan for the Future
Although 2022 was a tough year for digital media, Peretti remains optimistic, saying that there is more work to do to realize the full potential of the combined brand portfolio. In addition to pursuing long-form investigations, Buzzfeed is also embracing AI technology to create content, as Peretti announced earlier this year. This move is likely a response to the challenges faced by digital media, as well as the increased demand for content in a world where people have more options than ever before. While traffic referrals from Facebook have been flagging, Waclawiak claims that the increased publishing volume has led to higher revenue, particularly from external platforms like Apple News and NewsBreak. Despite the challenges faced by Buzzfeed, the company remains committed to producing high-quality journalism and finding new ways to reach audiences.Read more: Buzzfeed Newsroom Struggle With Shrinking And Increased Demands