News outlet HuffPost, formerly known as Huffington Post, announced on June 14 that it has begun laying off journalists in New York City and Washington, D.C., including Pulitzer Prize-winner David Wood. The layoffs are part of a broader company-wide restructuring.
A new digital unit of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), called Oath, was created after HuffPost’s parent company, AOL, acquired Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) for $4.5 billion. Oath’s more than 50 brands include HuffPost, TechCrunch, and Tumblr, and it is being led by AOL Chief Executive Tim Armstrong.
The Writers Guild of America East (WGAE), the union that represents HuffPost, and which in January worked out a new three-year contract with the company, said it had been notified of the 39 layoffs.
“We have been notified that 39 WGAE members at HuffPost were laid off today as part of a corporate-wide layoff in connection with Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo,” the union said in a statement.
WGAE members at HuffPost that were jettisoned from their jobs will receive two months’ salary plus a week of pay for each year of service, and continued health benefits.
This is just the start of the layoffs. Verizon has said it expects to fire about 15% of its entire workforce, as many as 2,100 people, as part of the Yahoo merger with AOL. The biggest surprise was the departure of military correspondent David Wood, who won HuffPost its only Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for a series on military veterans.
The layoffs come as HuffPost’s new Editor-in-Chief Lydia Polgreen is “assembling a newsroom leadership team.” Arianna Huffington, who founded the eponymous site in 2005, left in August 2016.
Polgreen, who previously worked on the digital side at The New York Times before she succeeded Huffington has been tasked with streamlining HuffPost and getting rid of niche parts of the site that have been losing money for HuffPost. The company also aggressively expanded to overseas markets with mixed results. This may have increased traffic but it also decreased cash.
News of the HuffPost layoffs comes on the heels of Vocativ, that laid off its entire editorial team to move to an all-video platform. Meanwhile, Time Inc (NYSE:TIME), the name behind TIME, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, and PEOPLE, gutted 300 of its staff on June 12.
“HuffPost Lays Off Dozens Amid Corporate Cutbacks,” HuffPost, June 14, 2017.