Business Insider has informed staff it plans to make 8% of employees globally redundant.
The move comes less than a year after the Axel Springer-owned title cut 10% of its staff in the US.
If Thursday’s cuts are spread equally across teams, it will mean approximately 40 of the company’s 500 journalists are being laid off.
Chief executive Barbara Peng emailed employees at midday UK time (or 7am in New York) informing them that while Business Insider “closed out last year with a plan in place, a clear target audience and a vision”, 2024 would be about “making it happen and focusing our company”.
“Unfortunately, this also means we need to scale back in some areas of our organisation,” she wrote.
Peng’s note was subsequently published to the Business Insider website. Those impacted were emailed in the 15 minutes following her email.
At the time of last year’s cuts Business Insider, then named only Insider, employed approximately 950 people around the world, of whom 600 worked in editorial roles. The publisher employs 70 journalists in its London newsroom.
In addition to the new round of cuts, some staff will be reassigned to different editorial beats.
Those being laid off in the US appear to be out effective immediately. Peng said in her email that “those leaving today” will receive a minimum of 13 weeks pay and medical coverage through to the end of May.
“We will also offer career support services including 1:1 coaching sessions, resume review and training on networking, interviewing and negotiations.”
Peng hosted a company-wide all-hands call at 4:30pm UK time/11:30am New York time on Thursday, but one staffer who listened in told Press Gazette “the general sentiment among the newsroom is that there was a lack of clarity in the all-hands.
“We’re disappointed in the communication vacuum, to say the least.”
Editor-in-chief Nicholas Carlson told the call he will address the newsroom at 9:05pm UK time (4:05pm US time), to “talk more about what’s changing” and “how we’re reorganising the newsroom to best serve our newly-defined audience”.
The cuts last year prompted Busines Insider’s US staff to go on a 13-day strike, which was described at the time as the “longest ever in digital media”. The strike reportedly ultimately saved 22 roles.
The US union was yet to issue a response at time of publication. The UK NUJ chapel, which is yet to strike a recognition agreement with management, plans to put out a statement later in the day.
‘Corporate gaslighting of the highest degree’
The cuts come two months after the business website rebranded back to its old name and Peng took over from longtime chief executive Henry Blodget.
At the time, Carlson said the change was “about recommitting to what we do best: our powerful, insightful, and unique coverage of business, tech, and innovation” with “a name that reminds us all that Business Insider isn’t some generic news website built for everybody”.
Speaking on Thursday, one employee told Press Gazette the cuts represented “corporate gaslighting of the highest degree”.
“Just a day after senior management boasted in a newsroom-wide meeting about going to cocktail parties in Davos, and weeks after Nich Carlson told employees in London that entertainment and life would be a focus of Business Insider’s rebranding, the company decided to surprise the newsroom with a 15-minute warning that 8% of employees would be laid off. A significant proportion of these employees were in the entertainment and life division.
“Disappointingly, hard-working employees who have fulfilled the thankless task of getting high traffic numbers were told with no forewarning that they’re at risk of losing their jobs.
“Even more disappointingly, minimal communication or reassurance came from senior management in the aftermath.”
Last week Business Insider’s UK bureau chief Spriha Srivastava told Press Gazette the title had to think about the stories it prioritises because it has fewer reporters than other major news outlets.
She added: “how could we get better?” was the company motto. “We want to get better every day. So how do we get better? What do we do? What is the biggest story today? How can we follow up that story? And how can we lean more into new areas of coverage?”
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