On Thursday, 20 employees with The Huffington Post were given pink slips just one day after Verizon Media (parent company) decided to cut 7% of its staff.
"About 750 Verizon Media employees were expected to lose their jobs," reports HuffPo. "That announcement came more than a month after Verizon took a $4.6 billion write-down on HuffPost’s parent company, Oath (now called Verizon Media), which includes AOL, Yahoo and HuffPost."
"HuffPost unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East in 2017," the report continued. "A spokesman for the union said at least 15 members had lost their jobs. Two full teams ― the opinion and health sections ― were eliminated."
Among those laid off was Pulitzer Prize finalist Jason Cherkis:
In a statement on Thursday, HuffPo Editor-in-Chief Lydia Polgreen said that the media will be aligning more dollars to areas with "high audience engagement."
"It’s a tough day for HuffPost, and we’re losing some talented and beloved colleagues," Polgreen said Thursday. "We are deeply committed to quality journalism that reflects what matters most to our diverse audiences across the globe. HuffPost is aligning its talents and investments to areas that have high audience engagement, differentiation and are poised for growth at a time when our mission means more than ever."
HuffPo will also be closing its Germany edition on March 31. Due to union contracts, those employees laid off will be given severance.
The Writers Guild of America, East, said in a statement that the layoffs represent another example of why media staff join together for workplace protections.
"A number of good people lost their jobs as part of company-wide layoffs, despite Verizon taking in nearly $4 billion in government-funded tax breaks last year and a promise that workers will ‘share in the company’s success,’" WGAE said in a statement. "This is one of the many reasons why staffs working in the media industry continue to join together to fight for workplace protections that include collectively bargained severance packages and fair layoff notifications."
HuffPo reporter and WGAE member Christopher Mathias said the employees laid off "don't deserve this" and they will be missed.
"Today is a big blow to our newsroom and to the world of journalism," Mathias said. "The reporters and editors who were laid off today don’t deserve this. It’s so sad and infuriating. They are some of the most passionate and dedicated people I know, and their work has made real impact on people’s lives. They’ll be sorely, sorely missed."
"No one does this job to get rich," he added. "Big tech CEOs do their jobs to get rich."
A Verizon Media spokeswoman said Wednesday that the company's goal "is to create the best experiences for our consumers and the best platforms for our customers."
"Today marks a strategic step toward better execution of our plans for growth and innovation into the future," she said.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the website BuzzFeed also announced on Wednesday that it will be laying off 15% of its company workforce.
"BuzzFeed is laying off 15 percent of its workforce, about 215 people," reports THR. "CEO Jonah Peretti on Wednesday sent a memo to staffers with the subject line 'Difficult Changes' in which he explained that efforts to diversify revenue weren't enough to help the company achieve profitability."
In the memo, Peretti said the company restructuring will reduce costs and improve revenue.
"Unfortunately, revenue growth by itself isn't enough to be successful in the long run," he wrote. "The restructuring we are undertaking will reduce our costs and improve our operating model so we can thrive and control our destiny, without ever need to raise funding again."