HuffPost Layoffs Were Just Plain Cruel

Washington, D.C. — Just three weeks after BuzzFeed acquired HuffPost from Verizon Media, the news publisher announced yesterday it would lay off 47 employees to “fast-track the path to profitability” for HuffPost. The reporters were told to attend a virtual meeting with a password, “spr!ngisH3r3,” a variation on the phrase “spring is here.” The staff members were then informed that if they did not receive an email by 1 p.m., their jobs were safe.

As we near the first anniversary of the ongoing  COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen reporters who have worked on the frontlines tirelessly to cover this tumultuous year and are now being handed a pink slip in return. The journalism industry has always faced an existential crisis, but now with the onslaught of the pandemic, it needs aggressive action to save the industry.

The business environment for news outlets was already desperate because Google and Facebook have siphoned off billions in ad revenue that used to sustain local news. The collapse of advertising revenue and the overall economic decline is an “extinction-level” crisis for local news in the United States. 

The following is a statement from Laura Bassett, former Senior Politics Reporter for HuffPost who was laid off in January 2019, and co-founder of the Save Journalism Project:

 “Yesterday’s layoffs were just plain cruel. Reporters have worked tirelessly the past year to bring us the news we need to keep ourselves safe during the COVID-19 global pandemic — which still isn’t over — and this is the way they are repaid. It is sad to see an organization place profits over people and willingly put staffers in mental and economic harm by laying them off during a time of crisis. I myself know the feeling of being laid off and the hurt you feel after giving your all to an organization and being let go over, not quality of work, but lack of profitability. The question of why so many great news publishers were going under or laying off staff led me to co-found the Save Journalism Project, and I will keep working to make sure we save the journalism industry from collapse and subsequently harming our democracy.”