President Donald Trump on Saturday blamed “fake news” and “bad journalism” for the recent mass layoffs at BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post and predicted more journalists will lose their jobs as a result of it.
“‘Ax falls quickly at BuzzFeed and Huffpost!’ Headline, New York Post. Fake News and bad journalism have caused a big downturn,” President Trump tweeted. “Sadly, many others will follow. The people want the Truth!”
Earlier this week, BuzzFeed announced it was cutting 15 percent of its jobs, or roughly 200 people, to trim expenses and reach profitability. BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti wrote employees Wednesday that the layoffs will help the media organization avoid having to raise money from investors once more. He wrote:
Unfortunately, revenue growth by itself isn’t enough to be successful in the long run. The restructuring we are undertaking will reduce our costs and improve our operating model so we can thrive and control our own destiny, without ever needing to raise funding again. These changes will allow us to be the clear winner in the market as the economics of digital media continue to improve.” The privately held company has not been profitable for several years. It has raised hundreds of millions from such investors as Comcast’s NBCUniversal.
Slack messages obtained by the Daily Beast show furious BuzzFeed staffers knocking Peretti’s handling of the layoffs and lamenting whether it will affect future hiring prospects.
“This is the second time in less than six months that such mass layoffs have been leaked and subsequent management of said leaks and their fallout have been inadequate, bordering on cruel,” one employee told the embattled chief executive. The left-wing website’s reputation suffered a sizeable blow this month after special counsel Robert Mueller disputed its report alleging President Trump directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to make false statements to Congress regarding a proposed real estate deal in Russia.
BuzzFeed’s layoffs came as Verizon said it is cutting around 800 jobs, or seven percent of its media and advertising employees, as it reorganizes the troubled division.
The wireless company had hoped to create an ad business that could compete with Google and Facebook. It spent roughly $10 billion buying up former Internet pioneers Yahoo and AOL. However, Verizon found benefits from integrating those two companies were less than expected. The company slashed the value of its media unit by nearly $5 billion in December. The new CEO of Verizon’s media division, Guru Gowrappan, informed employees of the layoffs in an email Wednesday. He says the division’s priorities will now include focusing on mobile and video products and stemming declines with desktop users. At least 15 unionized staffers at the Huffington Post — owned by Verizon — were let go from the digital website this week, which also saw its entire opinion section eliminated.
Newspaper companies have also suffered deep cutbacks, with staffs nearly cut in half since 2004. Reports started rolling in Wednesday of Gannett, one of the country’s largest newspaper publishers, laying off journalists from USA Today, the Arizona Republic and other newspapers. It’s unclear how many jobs were lost.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.