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BuzzFeed cuts employee pay by up to 25 percent as coronavirus slams economy

In a bid to avoid layoffs, BuzzFeed is cutting staffers’ pay by as much as 25 percent while CEO Jonah Peretti will forgo pay as long as the coronavirus wracks the economy.

Peretti broke the news in a memo to staffers Wednesday, saying salaries will be slashed in April and May on a sliding scale based on salary.

Staffers making less than $65,000 a year will see their salaries trimmed by 5 percent, according to the Daily Beast, which was first to report the cuts. Employees making $65,000 to $90,000 annually will reportedly be hit with a 7 percent pay cut, while staffers above that bracket will take a 10 percent haircut. Top executives will see pay cut between 14 percent and 25 percent.

“I will not be taking a salary until we are on the other side of this crisis,” Peretti stated. “I understand this will be a real hardship for everyone, but our goal is to make it possible for all of us to get through this.”

Peretti made the move in anticipation of a drop in advertising sales as the virus shutters businesses — eliminating the need for advertising. Complicating the ad picture for BuzzFeed is its reliance on video ads, which are more time-consuming and labor-intensive than digital banner ads.

“We don’t know how long this will last but we want to move quickly to make sure our business remains sustainable,” Peretti said, adding that the company “will lift the program and re-evaluate if things improve.”

The NewsGuild, which has clashed with the company in the past and staged a walkout over stalled negotiations in mid-2019, said it is supportive of the latest move.

“While this obviously isn’t ideal for anyone, we’re glad the company is taking a proactive approach and pursuing options to cut costs that don’t result in job losses,” the NewsGuild said in a statement released late Wednesday. “The work being done by BuzzFeed News staff has never been more vital.”

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