RT News.com By Helen Buyniski Thurs., May 14, 2020
Notorious clickbait outlet BuzzFeed has shuttered its UK and Australian operations in what must be the end of an era, having learned the hard way that even the biggest orgy of rage-clicks doesn’t translate to profits.
BuzzFeed announced it had furloughed 14 journalists in both countries on Wednesday, declaring it would no longer cover local news in the UK and Australia in favor of “news that hits big in the United States.” inThe writers aren’t expected to come back, and they join a total of 82 BuzzFeed employees who’ve “temporarily” lost their jobs during the last two weeks. The remaining staff have had to tighten their belts and swallow pay cuts.
In what now looks like a cry for help, BuzzFeed published an article back in March calling the coronavirus pandemic a “media extinction event,” lamenting that ad revenues were falling off a cliff and journalism was struggling to survive.
The company’s financial troubles clearly extend outside the UK and Australia. But the virus is just the coup de grace – the clickbait-driven business model that has come to define even “serious” news outlets has been circling the drain for years.
BuzzFeed was largely known for fluffy listicles and celebrity fodder before it splashed into the “serious news” arena in 2017 with its decision to publish the infamous Steele dossier (better known as the “peepee dossier”) that launched a thousand Russiagate conspiracy theories.
Unlike the New York Times and other mainstream publications that also received the dossier, Buzzfeed opted to publish it without trying to verify its salacious claims.
Its news division topped themselves with more poorly-sourced Russiagate “scoops,” forcing the special counsel’s office to issue rare public denials. But the facts didn’t matter – they were getting clicks and being taken seriously by the media establishment.