Buzzfeed to close UK news operation

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Buzzfeed News staff in New York: The company says it is to focus on US stories

Online media firm Buzzfeed is to close its UK and Australian news operations.

The US company, which set up its London office in 2013, said the decision had been made “both for economic and strategic reasons”.

Buzzfeed said it would be focusing on news that “hits big in the United States during this difficult period”.

Some staff will stay on to cover social news, celebrity and investigations for US readers, but it is thought about 10 jobs are affected.

BBC News media editor Amol Rajan said the affected UK staff had been furloughed.

He added that the title “did much outstanding work” and its closure showed that the coronavirus crisis had “claimed a high-profile journalistic institution”.

Buzzfeed News had been a “strong, scooping, important voice” in UK journalism and its decision was due to the pressures on the company’s advertising-funded business model, not its work, our correspondent added.

Buzzfeed’s UK political editor Alex Wickham tweeted: “So incredibly proud of the BuzzFeed UK team, which punched so far above its weight and did some really amazing journalism.”

Paying tribute to his colleagues, news editor Alan White posted that “the amount of talent in that office was unreal”.

Political correspondent Hannah Al-Othman tweeted she had “an absolutely brilliant three years” at the title. “It’s been the best job I’ve ever had, and there’ll probably never be another one better,” she added.

Guardian columnist Marina Hyde wrote that she had “been informed and made to laugh so many times a day by their brilliant, idiosyncratic and dedicated staff”.

In a statement, Buzzfeed said it was still investing heavily in its news business and will spend about $10m (£8.05m) more than it makes from its operation this year, and about $6m more in 2021.

It added: “We will be consulting with employees on our plans regarding furloughs and stand-downs”.

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