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Covid-19 causes closure of BuzzFeed UK operation

Posted on: May 14, 2020 by Ian Murray

BuzzFeed has announced it is closing its dedicated UK and Australian news operations, partly as a result of a downturn in revenue due to the Covid-19 crisis.

BuzzFeed will continue to publish news in the US and says it plans to retain some UK staff to cover global news for its American audience.

Some ten UK staff are understood to have been furloughed as well as four in Australia.

The digital-only news outfit launched in the UK in 2013 but made a loss of £9.4m in the UK in 2018, with turnover down nearly £12m.

A BuzzFeed spokesperson said: “Both for economic and strategic reasons, we are going to focus on news that hits big in the United States during this difficult period.

“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.

“In the UK, we still plan on retaining some employees who are focused on news with a global audience — social news, celebrity, and investigations.”

The company said that the cuts would also hit its US operation. “We [want to] reach the savings we need and produce the high-tempo, explosive journalism our readers rely on,” the company said.

BuzzFeed maintained that it was still “investing heavily” in its news operation, with a projection of investing $10m more this year than the division makes, and $6m in 2021.

BuzzFeed was launched by Jonah Peretti in 2006 and as recently as 2016 the company had attracted a valuation of as much as $1.7bn.

In 2018 BuzzFeed cut a third of its UK newsroom staff and began asking readers to “help shape the future” of its content.