“Hello,” the email began. “We are writing to let you know that due to a resignation on the News team, there is now an open position on the Culture Team for a Culture Writer.” The message was clear and innocuous enough, with a subject line: “BuzzFeed New Opportunity Available: Culture Writer.” The problem is that this memo seems to have been sent en masse to many of the company’s writers who were just laid off.
Yes, it seems BuzzFeed is hiring again–albeit due to attrition–after letting go of hundreds of employees just weeks ago. The company announced a huge restructuring late last month that resulted in a sizable percentage of its workforce getting pink slips. It was one of many large media companies announcing big cuts in the name of figuring out a sustainable business model for digital media. Others included Verizon and Vice Media, both of which cited advertising headwinds as the catalyst to rein in spending.
For many, the BuzzFeed layoffs hit especially hard. Of the around 250 who were let go, some had been with the company since the very beginning and were considered integral in defining the website’s overall vibe and tone. Beyond that, the company dismantled its national news desk, which to many was a glowing example of how to do smart and deep digital journalism.
While it’s natural for a company to fill vacant positions, sending a generic email to those who just lost their jobs seems like a bizarre way to go about things. Many recipients were stunned to receive the message, sources tell me.
I reached out to BuzzFeed and a spokesperson declined to comment. For now, we’ll see if the email announcement works, and the company decides to let one of its own back in.