VICE Lays Off 155 Workers, Buzzfeed Closes UK and Australia Offices Due to COVID-19


Online journalism has been hit particularly hard with the coronavirus pandemic decimating ad revenue on websites reliant on traffic.

VICE and Buzzfeed are just two major online publications to see significant job cuts in the age of coronavirus as they struggle with the threat posed by potential economic downturns as “non-essential” businesses go bust and joblessness rises to unprecedented levels.

On Wednesday, Buzzfeed announced they would be closing their Australia and UK offices after it was long warned that online publications would suffer from falling ad revenue.

Those furloughed by Buzzfeed were reportedly unlikely to return to the company after the offices were mothballed.

According to The Guardian, the company said:

“For economic and strategic reasons, we are going to focus on news that hits big in the United States during this difficult period.”

“Therefore, we will notify staff in the UK and Australia that we are not planning to cover local news in those countries. We will be consulting with employees on our plans regarding furloughs and stand-downs in these regions.”

Today, it was reported that VICE, including Refinery29, would be shaving off more than 5% of its global workforce as revenue tumbles amid the global pandemic.

Variety Magazine obtained a memo from VICE CEO, Nancy Dubuc, which reportedly said:

“Vice Digital’s teams will be disproportionately affected by the layoffs. Currently, the company’s digital organization accounts for 50% of headcount costs, “but only brings in about 21% of our revenue,” Dubuc said in the memo. “Looking at our business holistically, this imbalance needed to be addressed for the long-term health of our company.””

The media giant was able to salvage the bulk of its workforce by axing open roles in the company.

In March, when the global pandemic began threatening lockdowns, VICE Media announced measures including pay cuts and a freeze on promotions as falling expected revenue threatened the company.

Several industries across the world have reported economic damage as joblessness soars as a result of social distancing policies across dozens of countries.