There's a Media Bloodbath Underway [UPDATING]

Organize or die.
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It’s another terrible week to work in media.

After the news hit yesterday that BuzzFeed, HuffPost, and Gannett would slash their workforces, layoffs were underway this morning at HuffPost, once hailed as a new model for digital publishing.

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Bryan Maygers, a member of HuffPost’s opinion desk, tweeted that the entire section had been axed:

A number of other reporters—including Polk Award-winning investigative journalist Jason Cherkis—also tweeted that they’d lost their jobs:

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The only silver lining: HuffPost unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East (the union to which Gizmodo Media Group’s editorial staffers also belong) in early 2017, and negotiated a decent severance package.

In a statement, the union pointed out that HuffPost’s parent company, Verizon, was making the cuts despite receiving a massive tax break from the Trump administration:

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At BuzzFeed, notoriously anti-union CEO Jonah Peretti emailed staffers Wednesday night announcing the layoffs, promising that more information about the affected teams would come by Monday at the latest. The cuts will reportedly come from across the company, including its news division, and total around 250 staffers cut, 15 percent of the site’s workforce.

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Meanwhile, Gannett, the newspaper conglomerate—which has been publicly floated as a potential buyer for GMG—laid off journalists around the country on Wednesday, including a Pulitzer Prize winner, according to the Washington Post. As Poynter reported, the cuts were happening in at least 10 Gannett-owned newsrooms:

The cuts were not minor.

At the Indianapolis Star, three journalists were laid off, including well-known columnist Tim Swarens. At the Knoxville (Tennessee) News Sentinel, University of Tennessee women’s basketball reporter Dan Fleser is out after more than 30 years in sports. The Tennessean cut three positions, including high school sports reporter Michael Murphy. Traci Bauer, executive editor of LoHud (New York), was let go.

Six were laid off at The Record in North Jersey after nine took an early retirement buyout earlier this month.

On and on it continued.

This latest bloodbath comes after Mic axed nearly its entire staff in late November ahead of a sale to Bustle Digital Group, helmed by infamous media douche Bryan Goldberg. His gambit—buy the brand, the site, its social media pages, axe the existing staff—was a flagrantly anti-union tactic: The site had voted to organize nearly a year ago but had not yet negotiated a contract. This is instructive. As always, it’s important to keep close watch on who benefits from these cuts and how, and to remember that journalists are always the collateral damage in rich people’s shell games.

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Update, Jan. 24, 2019, 1:34 p.m. ET: Story updated to include the names of more HuffPost staffers who were laid off.

Update, Jan. 25, 2019, 10:55 a.m. ET: Layoffs are reportedly underway at BuzzFeed. One staffer tweeted that the news was due to come in waves by team. The Hollywood Reporter’s Jeremy Barr reported that the cuts at BuzzFeed News would be happening today.

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Among the cuts so far are the site’s former DC bureau chief and other longtime employees:

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BuzzFeed’s bureau in Spain also tweeted that their entire site was folding:

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Other staffers were also tweeting that they’d been laid off:

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Update, Jan. 25, 2019, 11:47 a.m. ET: It appears that BuzzFeed’s entire national news team has been cut, per Deputy national editor Marisa Carroll.

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Update, Jan. 25, 2019, 12:32 p.m. ET: BuzzFeed severance packages will start at a minimum of 10 weeks, according to an email sent by BuzzFeed’s staff council—a group of employees who meet with management—to the U.S. and U.K. News teams and obtained by Splinter. Benefits for laid-off employees will continue through April. The email also mentioned the possibility of a quasi-buyout that was not initially planned by management. “Ben [Smith] said voluntary departures have not been planned as a part of this process,” the email read, “but if someone is interested in being laid off voluntarily, they should talk to their manager ASAP.”

The rest of BuzzFeed’s national team has confirmed their layoffs, as well as national security reporter Mark Seibel, who mentioned that “the bulk” of his team was also laid off.

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Update, 1/25/2019, 2:33 p.m. The layoffs appear to have completely gutted or wiped out several departments in BuzzFeed News entirely. World Editor Miriam Elder confirmed that the entire National Security team—five reporters and Seibel, the editor—is gone.

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The entire health reporting team is also reportedly gone, per reporter Caroline Kee:

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The lifestyle team has also been entirely laid off, per several reporters and editors on the team.

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The LGBT team is down to a single full-time editor:

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Staffers tweeted that the entertainment reporting team was also disbanded, with a small number of staffers being retained and moved to other roles:

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Some of the company’s remaining podcasts have also gotten the axe.

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At least one investigative reporter, Chris McDaniel, has also been let go:

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One staffer estimated that about 40 people had been let go from the company’s U.S. office.

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