The BBC is getting rid of 450 newsroom employees. Among the divisions affected are the BBC World Service and Newsnight, the network’s nightly news program. The cuts, part of what BBC News director Fran Unsworth said was a necessary move away from traditional broadcasting and towards digital, follows the loss of 50 positions late last year. Another factor is an organization-wide cost-cutting drive. The corporation announced in 2016 that it needed to save £800m (about $1.4 billion), with about 10 percent of that figure coming from news. Just over £40m of the savings required from BBC News have already been found. Most of the BBC’s funding comes from an annual tax of about $200 paid by British citizens who watch or stream live television. Prime minister Boris Johnson has ordered a review of the fee. According to National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stainstreet, loss of the fee would add another £200 million to the BBC’s annual losses. In addition, BBC director-general Tony Hall has announced plans that will likely see at least two-thirds of the corporation's staff based outside London by 2027, saying that moving the jobs away from the capital would "promote inclusion." About half (48 percent) of the corporation’s employees now work in London.
Craig Newmark Philanthropies is donating $1 million to ProPublica to support the organization’s Electionland collaboration and related national and local reporting on voting issues around the 2020 U.S. elections. The gift will support a consortium of news organizations that tracks the voter experience and shines a light on practices that endanger voting rights. Using multiple data sources, social media newsgathering, and verification technology, the Electionland collaboration will target issues that can effectively disenfranchise eligible voters. These include changing voting laws and rules, disinformation, voter harassment, insecure technology, equipment failures, and long lines at the polls. This new philanthropic funding will allow newsrooms and technology companies across the country to closely monitor the 2020 elections in a way that no single organization could. A smaller part of the gift will support ProPublica’s investigative journalism in 2021.
BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith is heading to the New York Times as the paper’s media columnist. Smith succeeds Jim Rutenberg, now a writer at large for the paper, who took the spot after the death of David Carr in 2015. Smith joined BuzzFeed in 2012 and built the site’s news operation. Before coming to BuzzFeed, he was a reporter at Politico, a political columnist and blogger for the New York Daily News and a reporter for both the New York Observer and New York Sun. In a letter to BuzzFeed staffers from chief executive Jonah Peretti, he said that BuzzFeed News was “built to last” and would keep on “telling the stories others won’t in ways they haven’t thought of.”