BuzzFeed shuts down HuffPost Canada

The move comes three weeks after the company closed on an acquisition deal with Verizon Media that also included access to its ad networks.
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Three weeks after closing its purchase of HuffPost from Verizon Media, BuzzFeed is shutting down the site’s Canadian operations, putting 23 staffers out of a job.

Existing content will remain as an online archive, but no new content will be published, according to a splash page that now appears when visiting HuffPost’s Canadian site. According to CWA Canada, the media union, two dozen of HuffPost Canada’s staff filed to unionize two weeks ago, though a tweet from organizers at HuffPost stated they had been informed the decision to shut down Canadian operations was made before its organizing effort. The CWA called on BuzzFeed to reverse its “disastrous decision,” which president Martin O’Hanlon said in a statement was  bad for journalism, bad for Canada, and bad for a bunch of great journalists now thrown out of work after all they’ve done for this company.”

The move is part of broader cuts announced by BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti Tuesday – and reportedly relayed to staff in a virtual meeting that used the password “spring is here” – which also includes laying off 47 HuffPost staff in the U.S. and “beginning consultations” to cut backs operations in Australia and the U.K. Peretti said that while BuzzFeed as a company remains profitable, it couldn’t continue to support the losses HuffPost has experienced over the last two years, totalling $20 million in 2020 alone.

When the deal was announced in November, BuzzFeed said in a press release that the companies would continue to operate as separate news organizations with their own websites and editorial staff. The deal also included a multiyear partnership between Verizon Media and BuzzFeed focusing on content syndication and access to the latter’s ad networks. Verizon Media also became a minority shareholder in BuzzFeed.

HuffPost Canada – then known as Huffington Post Canada – was the outlet’s first international site when it was created in 2011, adding a French site for Quebec the following year. Current numbers on site performance were unavailable by press time, but in 2018, then-editor-in-chief Andree Lau told J-Source that the site had 6.4 million monthly unique visitors.