Business Insider will lay off around 8% of its staff on Thursday, according to a blog post from CEO Barbara Peng sent to employees.
“We closed out last year with a plan in place, a clear target audience and a vision,” the statement read. “This year is about making it happen and focusing our company and efforts towards this future.”
According to Peng, Business Insider has already “begun to refocus teams and invest in areas that drive outsize value for our core audience.”
However, “this also means we need to scale back in some areas of our organization,” Peng continued.
“As part of this new direction, today we are announcing we are reducing the size of our team — a change that impacts about 8% of our people,” the CEO wrote.
“We’re saying goodbye to wonderful colleagues who have helped build Business Insider into what it is today,” the post continued. “We are deeply grateful for their passion, energy and teamwork, and we appreciate them.”
Peng noted that staffers departing the outlet today will receive a minimum of 13 weeks pay and medical coverage through May. Business Insider is additionally offering career support services to those impacted.
“We’re committed to building an enduring and sustainable Business Insider for the coming years and beyond,” Peng concluded.
The layoffs come in the wake of tumult over Business Insider’s reporting on MIT academic and entrepreneur Neri Oxman, accusing her of plagiarism. Oxman’s husband, hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, went nuclear on Business Insider as a result, accusing the outlet of targeting Oxman because of Ackman’s criticism of Harvard president Claudine Gay.
After a review, Peng defended Business Insider’s reporting. “There was no unfair bias or personal, political and/or religious motivation in the pursuit of the stories. The stories were newsworthy and Neri Oxman, who has a public profile as a prominent intellectual and has been a subject of and participant in media coverage, is a fair subject,” Peng said.
The Insider layoffs also come at a crucial time for media. The Los Angeles Times just underwent significant layoffs, workers at Conde Nast outlets walked out on the job this week to protest upcoming layoffs, and on Thursday workers at Forbes staged a walkout to protest stalled negotiations and New York Daily News also organized a walkout ahead of proposed layoffs.
A joint statement from Insider Union and NewsGuild of New York said, “We are appalled and angry that Business Insider has chosen, like too many other newsrooms recently, to lay off 22 of our talented members as well as many of our nonunion colleagues.”
“We’re watching closely to ensure they don’t violate any of our contractual rights; we are ready to act if they do,” the union continued, referring to management’s approach to laying off staffers.
“From the timing of today’s announcement — not even a month after our layoff moratorium expired — it’s clear that management has been eager to lay more of us off,” Insider Union unit chair and senior copy editor for Business Insider Emma LeCault said in a statement.
The union said they are “especially disgusted that management has chosen to do this while Axel Springer is reportedly able to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars of dividends to their investors.”
“These news organizations’ vile corporate greed and union-busting tactics are no match for the solidarity within our union, across our industry, and throughout the labor movement,” the Insider Union said.