BuzzFeed News union votes to go on strike amid threat of job cuts

The union representing journalists in BuzzFeed’s news division has voted overwhelmingly to go on strike just days after the resignation of three of the site’s top editors – prompting takeovers and layoffs at the loss-making company.

“Today our unit came together and voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike,” read a Twitter post from BuzzFeed News Union.

The tweet continued, “90% of the unit participated in the strike vote, with 91% voting to authorize the negotiating team to call a strike.”

The union said the planned walkout was called due to the lack of a “fair overall contract” that would guarantee “decent benefits, wages and protections for all our members”.

BuzzFeed management was accused of “maliciously negotiating” over the course of “over two years”.

The union said it “won’t stand by while another venture capitalist tries to take apart a key newsroom – as many have done with local newspapers across the country.”

“This vote does not mean we are going on strike,” the union wrote.

“But it means we’re ready to strike when needed. We don’t want to go on strike, but we will if it comes to it.”

The future of BuzzFeed News could be in doubt as reports surfaced last week suggesting at least some of the company’s investors are pushing to shut down the division entirely to boost profitability.

BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti has reportedly been pressured by shareholders to shut down the newsroom, which has lost millions of dollars in recent years.

Mark Schoofs, editor-in-chief of Buzzfeed News, announced his resignation last week.
Mark Schoofs, editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed News, announced his resignation last week.
Courtesy of @SchoofsFeed

Mark Schoofs, the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed News, and two of his top deputies resigned last week. Schoofs Assistant News Editor Tom Namako and Investigations Editor-in-Chief Ariel Kaminer also announced they intend to leave their posts.

Journalists working for the site have been told more job cuts are coming, The Information reported.

Fewer than 30 journalists in the 100-person editorial office buyouts have already been offeredaccording to CNBC.

Jonah Peretti
BuzzFeed’s investors are reportedly pressuring CEO Jonah Peretti to shut down his entire loss-making news operation.
Getty Images for BuzzFeed Inc.

The reporters, who have been offered exit packages, cover investigation, inequality, politics and science. Many of them have been with BuzzFeed for more than a year.

The news service at BuzzFeed loses about $10 million a year, CNBC reported.

The network quoted a shareholder as saying that the closure of the news business could add up to $300 million to the company’s market cap.

Peretti is reportedly aiming to transform the editorial team and make it profitable.

It’s unclear how a newsroom shutdown would affect HuffPost, which was acquired by BuzzFeed.

Newsroom by BuzzFeed
According to CNBC, BuzzFeed’s 100-strong newsroom loses an estimated $10 million annually.

Last year, Peretti fired 70 HuffPost employees after buying the news site from Verizon Media.

The high-profile departures come on the same day that BuzzFeed released its earnings report for the fourth quarter, which showed a 12% decline in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

Peretti said people were moving away from Facebook, which is a key platform for spreading the site’s viral content. That, in turn, has hurt BuzzFeed’s reach, according to the CEO.

Shares of the digital media company are up around 0.2% as of 2:30 p.m. ET Tuesday. BuzzFeed News union votes to go on strike amid threat of job cuts


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