The HuffPost layoffs which began rolling out Thursday will hit roughly 20 employees, all of whom will come from editorial, two company insiders confirmed to TheWrap on Thursday. While news of the layoffs first emerged Wednesday evening, the total number of affected employees had not previously been known.
In addition to the layoffs, the website will eliminate their opinion vertical and cease health enterprise reporting.
“A lot of confusion and frustration,” one employee told TheWrap describing the state of the newsroom. “People were getting calendar invites early in the morning up until the afternoon. The calendar invites were pretty much the sign that we were being laid off.”
“Today was very, very tense,” the employee added. “It doesn’t seem fair that good reporters are being laid off because of poor choices made by leadership.”
The cuts are part of a broad wave of layoffs at HuffPost’s parent company Verizon Media, which announced yesterday that they would shed seven percent of their overall workforce.
The Writers Guild of America, East confirmed that 15 union members at HuffPost lost their jobs in Thursday’s layoffs.
In a statement, the Writers Guild said, “Today is a tough day at HuffPost. 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.’ 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. Everyone who works in media needs to organize their workplace.”
Reps for HuffPost did not respond to multiple requests for comment from TheWrap throughout the day Thursday, but individual employees of the website — many who have spent years there — began posting real time updates on Twitter.
“Hi all. So some sad news. As of this morning, HuffPost’s opinion section is no more. I and the rest of the team have been let go,” Bryan Maygers, the website’s opinion editor, tweeted. “Thanks to all the brilliant writers who contributed over the last year, you were what made this job fun.”
“My team @huffpost got eliminated today,” health enterprise reporter Lauren Weber, who joined the team last April, said. “It’s been a great ride, from building a Morning Email list of ~1 million people to covering Ebola’s resurgence. Grateful for the time I’ve had and ready to write for you on public health and more.”
The day of reckoning at the website was part of a broader week of layoffs that affected roughly 1,000 media industry jobs according to CNN. Also this week, Gannett trimmed staff across their newspapers titles, while BuzzFeed announced they would shed 15 percent of their workforce — or roughly 215 people.
In an email to staff Wednesday evening, CEO Jonah Peretti said the cuts were necessary to put the company on a sustainable path for the long term.
“Over the past few months, we’ve done extensive work examining the trends in our business and the evolving economics of the digital platforms,” he said. “We’ve developed a good understanding of where we can consolidate our teams, focus in on the content that is working, and achieve the right cost structure to support our multi-revenue model. We are confident the changes we are making will put us on a firm foundation and allow us to invest and grow sustainably for years to come.”