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April 16, 2020, 1:17 p.m.
LINK: view.newsletters.cnn.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Sarah Scire   |   April 16, 2020

The coronavirus hits just keep coming for BuzzFeed. Digital ad revenue is down. Employee pay was cut. Amazon and Walmart are suspending their commerce marketing deals, which BuzzFeed relies on for ecommerce revenue. And, yesterday, Twitter pulled funding for its live morning news show AM to DM as well as for a new untitled project.

Although AM to DM has run advertising, Twitter’s decision to pull funding was decisive for BuzzFeed, which is suspending production, according to a memo first reported by CNN’s Oliver Darcy.

BuzzFeed’s head of studios Cindy Vanegas-Gesuale told staffers that BuzzFeed could not support the show “without the investment from Twitter.”

The last day for employees working on AM to DM and the other Twitter-funded project will be April 28. Darcy was told eight employees would be affected.

“I am truly sad and sorry about this turn of events,” Vanegas-Gesuale wrote in the memo. “We will be working overtime to revive our partnership with Twitter, and we hope with as much of the current team as possible.”

Twitter, which reported its own problems with ad revenue, told CNN they will “continue to partner with BuzzFeed on the other content collaborations” they have around the world.

When AM to DM launched in fall 2017, it was an anchor for what was then a big Twitter push into live video. BuzzFeed reported the show — originally titled “MorningFeed” — was averaging 1 million unique views each day. The show, which featured Twitter content alongside interviews by original hosts (and IRL friends) Saeed Jones and Isaac Fitzgerald, targeted a millennial audience — and found one, with a reported 78 percent of daily live viewers under 35. By January 2019, though, it was reaching a much smaller audience, around 400,000 people per episode. The show’s Twitter account has only 27,800 followers, suggesting a smaller core audience.

In mid-2019, Jones and Fitzgerald left to pursue writing projects and Alex Berg (previously a supervising producer for the show) and Zach Stafford took over as co-hosts.

The BuzzFeed News Union posted a statement on Twitter that claimed the company classified the writers, hosts, and producers who worked on AM to DM as freelance contractors, leaving them without the benefits and job security provided to their colleagues. “A constantly shifting landscape of partnership deals is not a justification for classifying long-term full-time employees as temporary contractors,” the statement reads. “It’s not a justification for keeping people in the dark about the status of the projects they work on.”

Jones said the staff on AM to DM “deserved so much better.”

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