BuzzFeed extends pay cuts and furloughs 68 employees

BuzzFeed plans to furlough 68 employees as part of broader cost-cutting measures, according to a memo from CEO Jonah Peretti that was shared earlier by Variety.

We’ve also obtained a copy of the memo, in which Peretti said the furloughs will affect the business, studios and administration teams.

It sounds like the furloughs do not yet include BuzzFeed News. However, Peretti wrote, “We will begin a negotiation with the News Guild [the union that represents BuzzFeed News] about the need to reduce costs in News,” and that efforts to minimize losses “will no longer be possible without further cuts similar to what we’re doing across other parts of the company.”

The furloughs will begin on May 15 and extend for three months. During that time, employees won’t be paid, but their health coverage will continue.

Peretti wrote that previously announced salary cuts will continue through the end of the year. (Peretti himself is foregoing pay during this period.) Other cost-cutting measures include subleasing the company’s offices in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., and closing out more than 50 open positions in content and tech.

This is part of a broader wave of cutbacks at media organizations, digital and otherwise, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to a dramatic decline in advertising. Thus far, both BuzzFeed and Vox have used pay cuts and furloughs to cut costs while avoiding permanent layoffs.

“In difficult times we can’t abandon our values,” Peretti wrote. “We are just as committed as ever to quality journalism, which is why we recruited Mark Schoofs to lead our News team. We are just as committed as ever to diversity, inclusion, and our [employee resource groups]. It is important to share that these furloughs do not have an adverse impact on employees based on race or gender. We are just as committed as ever to the important work we do to serve our audience.”