BuzzFeed Announces Deep Cuts To HuffPost Staff After Acquisition

BuzzFeed announced layoffs for the HuffPost newsroom on Tuesday, three weeks after acquiring HuffPost from Verizon Media in February.

Hillary Frey, the executive editor, and Louise Roug, the executive editor for international, will be departing in the restructuring effort.

HuffPost Canada will also shutter operations later this month.

A deal between BuzzFeed, HuffPost and Verizon Media was first made public in November. Verizon Media stated at the time that BuzzFeed and HuffPost would operate as “separate, distinct news organizations” with their own websites and editorial staff while BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti led the combined company. 

Peretti told staffers that the decision, which will affect U.S. 47 employees, was made in order to “fast-track the path to profitability” for HuffPost, enabling the company to break even this year and eventually turn a profit. 

Peretti co-founded HuffPost in 2005 with the site’s namesake, Arianna Huffington, along with Andrew Breitbart and Kenneth Lerer, before starting BuzzFeed the following year.

The HuffPost Union, organized as part of the Writers Guild of America, East, slammed the restructuring effort in a statement:

Today, we learned that 33 of our colleagues — nearly 30% of our unit — will be laid off. We are devastated and infuriated, particularly after an exhausting year of covering a pandemic and working from home. This is also happening less than a month after HuffPost was acquired by BuzzFeed. We never got a fair shot to prove our worth. These layoffs reiterate the importance of forming a union and advocating for our colleagues. We are glad that we are protected by a collective bargaining agreement and that our colleagues will receive severance. Our union will continue fighting to make HuffPost a more just and equitable workplace, including pushing for clear and accountable commitments to hiring and promoting more people of color and for transparency around pay equity.

Mark Schoofs, BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief, said last year that a search for a new HuffPost editor-in-chief would begin immediately, and Peretti said Tuesday that the search had reached its final stages. 

Frey has led the U.S. newsroom since Lydia Polgreen resigned as editor-in-chief one year ago to join the podcasting company Gimlet Media.

“The group of finalists we are considering is extremely strong, diverse, and committed to the future of HuffPost,” Peretti said. “We anticipate being able to make an offer and an announcement in the coming weeks.”

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