In a surprising development on Thursday, BuzzFeed News announced the end of its operations, signaling a notable shift in the media landscape — brought about by Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and his commitment to citizen journalism.
Out with the old, and in with the new, BuzzFeed is the first legacy news operation to shut down entirely, just weeks after its competitors at NPR laid off a massive portion of their staff.
Jonah Peretti, CEO and founder of BuzzFeed News, divulged in a memo that the company's news initiatives would be refocused on HuffPost, a brand that was actually making — instead of losing — money.
He stated that “we will concentrate our news efforts in HuffPost, a brand that is profitable with a highly engaged, loyal audience that is less dependent on social platforms.”
Peretti added that he “made the decision to overinvest in BuzzFeed News because I love their work and mission so much. This made me slow to accept that the big platforms wouldn’t provide the distribution or financial support required to support premium, free journalism purpose-built for social media.”
He lamented not holding the company to higher profitability standards, which could have provided a buffer to navigate economic and industry downturns and avert such painful circumstances.
Peretti assured that numerous cost-saving measures had been explored to preserve as many jobs as possible, including trimming budgets, open roles, travel, and entertainment, along with most other non-revenue generating discretionary expenditures.
Peretti disclosed that on Monday, the company would deliberate on the future of each division. He accepted some responsibility for the predicament, conceding that he could have managed the impact of the pandemic, tech recession, and other challenges more effectively.
Many observers have noted that the closure of BuzzFeed News coincides with Elon Musk's recent Twitter takeover, which has left legacy news outlets in an increasingly tenuous position. As more individuals turn to independent journalists for information, traditional media companies are struggling to compete, and facing scrutiny for perceived biases and opacity.
This migration towards citizen journalism is emblematic of a broader trend of decentralization and democratization of information. With the proliferation of social media and other online platforms, individuals now wield unprecedented power to share their viewpoints and influence public discourse, thereby holding legacy media outlets to account for promoting false narratives.