BuzzFeed will no longer include a regular reporter in the White House travel pool that accompanies the president on trips at home and abroad. The development comes amid broader cost concerns and financial pressures the company has faced in recent months.
“We decided not to continue in the smaller group that makes up the traveling pool, but remain enthusiastic members of the in-town print pool,” a spokesperson for the company told TheWrap on Thursday.
News of BuzzFeed’s departure was reported by the Washington Post’s David Nakamura on Twitter, Wednesday. In his tweet, Nakamura noted the high cost to news organizations that come with keeping correspondents as part of the regular traveling pool.
“BuzzFeed has dropped out of the WH print travel pool rotation that follows @potus on AF1 for domestic and foreign trips. Such duties are costly for news organizations which pay for flights, meals, other travel costs,” he said.
BuzzFeed spokesperson Matt Mittenthal confirmed that the decision reflected both time and cost considerations, and that BuzzFeed doesn’t generate daily coverage of Trump goings on in the travel pool unlike many other outlets who did maintain a permanent presence there.
Mittenthal also added that the network had no intention of dialing back any coverage of the broader Trump administration or federal agencies.
The travel pool scaling back comes as the company has been buffeted by financial pressures. BuzzFeed — which remains unprofitable — slashed 220 jobs in January 2019, accounting for roughly 15 percent of their domestic staff.
“Revenue growth by itself isn’t enough to be successful in the long run,” BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said in a memo to staff at the time explaining the decision. “The restructuring we are undertaking will reduce our costs and improve our operating model so we can thrive and control our own destiny, without ever needing to raise funding again”
The company has also been rocked by internal unrest in recent weeks, as the layoffs have spurred a vigorous unionization effort from staff. Talks with management, however, stalled with reps for the still unrecognized union calling out the company for canceling a negotiating session.
“We came to the table today ready to meet with BuzzFeed execs about finally recognizing our union. Five minutes after the meeting was scheduled to start, they told us they weren’t going to show up,” the union said in a tweet earlier this month. “This meeting was a crucial opportunity to make progress in agreeing on a bargaining unit, after more than 7 weeks of frustratingly slow communication with BuzzFeed. Instead, they abandoned today’s negotiations. BuzzFeed management is engaging in clear union-busting.”
“BuzzFeed has made specific, reasonable offers (and concessions) with the goal of voluntarily recognizing a BuzzFeed News union. We hope the union will return to discussing specific titles and positions – the subject of weeks of negotiations – rather than focusing on an area where we continue to disagree,” a spokesperson said in response.
The company also engaged in a public fight about the issue with the New York City mayor Bill de Blasio — who came out publicly in favor of recognition.