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BuzzFeed News union votes to strike as job cuts loom

The union representing journalists in BuzzFeed’s news division have overwhelmingly voted to strike just days after three of the site’s top editors resigned — with buyouts and layoffs likely at the money-losing operation. “Today, our unit came together and voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike,” read a Twitter post by the BuzzFeed News Union. The tweet continued: “90% of the unit participated in the strike vote, with 91% voting to authorize the bargaining team to call a strike.” The union said the planned labor stoppage was called due to the lack of a “fair comprehensive contract” that guaranteed “reasonable benefits, wages, and protections for all of our members.” BuzzFeed management was accused of “bad faith bargaining” over the course of “2+ years” of negotiations. The union said it “will not stand by as another venture capital vulture tries to pick apart a crucial newsroom — like many have done with local papers across the country.” “This vote does not mean that we are on strike,” the union wrote. We want to protect the future of our work and the news industry at large. We will not stand by as another venture capital vulture tries to pick apart a crucial newsroom — like many have done with local papers across the country.— BuzzFeed News Union ✊ (@bfnewsunion) March 29, 2022 “But it does mean that we are ready to strike if needed. We don’t want to strike, but we will if it comes to that.” The future of BuzzFeed News could be in doubt as reports surfaced last week indicating that at least some of the company’s investors are pushing to shut down the division entirely in order to boost profitability. BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti has reportedly come under pressure from shareholders to close down the newsroom, which has lost millions of dollars in recent years. Mark Schoofs, the editor in chief of BuzzFeed News, and two of his top deputies quit last week. Tom Namako, Schoofs’ deputy news editor, and Ariel Kaminer, the executive editor of investigations, also announced that they planned on leaving their posts. Journalists working for the site have been told that more job cuts are in the offing, The Information reported. Fewer than 30 journalists in the 100-person newsroom have already been offered buyouts, according to CNBC. The reporters who were offered exit packages cover investigations, inequality, politics, and science. Many of them have worked for BuzzFeed for more than a year. The news operation at BuzzFeed loses around $10 million per year, CNBC reported. The network quoted a shareholder as saying that closing down the news operation could boost the company’s market capitalization by up to $300 million. Peretti is reportedly aiming to turn the newsroom around and make it profitable. It is unclear how a shutdown of the newsroom would affect HuffPost, which was acquired by BuzzFeed. Last year, Peretti laid off 70 HuffPost staffers after buying the news site from Verizon Media. The high-profile departures come on the same day that BuzzFeed released its fourth-quarter earnings report, which showed a 12% drop in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. Peretti said people have migrated away from Facebook, which is a vital platform for spreading the site’s viral content. In turn, that has hurt BuzzFeed’s audience reach, according to the CEO. Shares of the digital media company rose by around 0.2% as of 2:30 p.m. ET Tuesday.

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