Buzzfeed to shut down UK and Australian news operations

14 May 2020, 00:42

BuzzFeed News headquarters in New York on 11 December 2018
BuzzFeed News headquarters in New York on 11 December 2018. Picture: Getty
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Buzzfeed has announced it will be shutting down UK and Australian news operations "for economic and strategic reasons."

The international online media organisation confirmed on Wednesday that it would cease news production in the UK and instead focus on its US market "during this difficult period."

It is thought around 10 staff will be affected by the move and those who have been furloughed will be contacted regarding stand-downs.

However, Buzzfeed said some of its workers would be kept on to cover "news with a global audience" for social and celebrity news, as well as investigations.

Local news in Australia will also come to an end.

Emily Ashton, Buzzfeed UK's senior political correspondent, said she was "sad" the organisation was rolling back operations in Britain.

"I've had the best time at BuzzFeed UK for over 5 years with a small but mighty team - it is so rare in journalism to be given the freedom & time to write stories that other outlets aren’t pursuing.

"Sad to not share a pint with my brilliant colleagues tonight."

The firm's UK Editor Stuart Millar said he was "gutted" that Buzzfeed was ceasing news production in the country.

Buzzfeed, which was founded in the US in 2006, attempted a major overseas expansion in recent years but has subsequently made some cutbacks.

A spokesperson for the organisation 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."

Despite previous cuts to staff in Britain, BuzzFeed UK has produced a number of major stories and awards, including a Pulitzer Prize-nominated investigation in 2018 which looked into links between Russia and 14 mysterious deaths in the UK, and one in the US.

However, at the end of the following year, the organisation received a notice from Companies House warning that it would be dissolved in two months if its financial data was not submitted.

BuzzFeed UK later said it would file its accounts before the end of the year.