Digital service shuts

Buzzfeed closes UK and Australia newsrooms

Buzzfeed had a reputation for ‘listicles’

Digital news service Buzzfeed has closed its news operations in the UK and Australia after seeing is advertising revenue slump because of the coronavirus epidemic.

It said it was giving up on local news and politics coverage in favour of news that “hits big” in the United States.

Commonly criticised for its traffic-driving “listicles”, its cat content and its “no haters” policy, Buzzfeed arrived in the UK from America in 2013 with ambitious plans to change the media landscape.

It matured into a serious challenger to Fleet Street’s domination of London-based news, but has been struggling financially.  It made a loss of £9.4 million in the UK in 2018, with turnover £12m lower.

It has furloughed its 10 UK news staff and four in Australia as part of the cutback. They are thought “highly unlikely” to return, while those retained will cover news with a “global audience”, such as its investigations operation and celebrity news coverage.

“For economic and strategic reasons, we are going to focus on news that hits big in the United States during this difficult period,” the company said.

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“Therefore, we will notify staff in the UK and Australia that we are not planning to cover local news in those countries. We will be consulting with employees on our plans regarding furloughs and stand-downs in these regions.”

Buzzfeed UK has faced repeated staffing cuts in the last two years, with some 23 editorial staff made redundant in 2018.

Cuts to 15% of Buzzfeed’s global workforce at the start of last year further reduced the UK newsroom to 20 journalists.

Former Guardian journalist Stuart Millar took over as Buzzfeed UK editor from Janine Gibson last year.

Ben Smith, the founding editor-in-chief left to join the New York Times in January this year, eight years after helping to launch its US newsroom.

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