Buzzfeed cuts

From the Crikey grapevine, it’s the latest tips and rumours …

Job buzz. We in the Crikey bunker have been watching the cuts at BuzzFeed, both locally and internationally, with great sadness this week. As Guy Rundle noted yesterday the organisation, which employs Crikey alumni like Josh Taylor and Marni Cordell, has done some great work. While we don’t yet know all the implications for the BuzzFeed Australia newsroom (a total of 11 staff in the Sydney office will be made redundant), the activities of the American branch are a cause for concern.

First BuzzFeed management attempted to dodge paying out leave entitlements (they have relented after sustained protest). Now it would appear they are trying something even more insidious. As pointed out by rightly angry staff members, BuzzFeed in the US is hiring people on “fellowships” — essentially an intern who is paid an hourly wage, but is entitled to nothing else — and it just so happens these are across editorial areas affected by the cuts. These fellowships were previously undertaken for three or four months; they now go for a year. 

This is likely all the more galling for staff given BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti also has a letter in this week’s New Yorker praising his journalists and refuting the implication the company was intending to “dump” BuzzFeed News.

Australian employment law is much stricter than its American counterpart, and this nonsense about essentially replacing full-time employees with “fellowships” would most likely be prohibited here (indeed, Crikey’s understanding is that there’s no equivalent program in Australia, nor any plan to implement one).

However, it will be worth keeping an eye on BuzzFeed Australia in the near future. Will they attempt to plug the imminent gaps with more casuals, interns or other more informal employment arrangements?

A KAK-handed intervention. So unless you’ve spent the last few days locked in your room, blocking out the world with white noise (and, look, that’s fair), you’ll know Studio 10 panelist Kerri-Anne Kennerley sparked a bit of debate this week.

KAK argued that protesters at Invasion Day rallies across the nation had done “zippo” in practical terms for Indigenous communities, and trotted out the decades old (and highly racist) trope that Indigenous communities are rife with rape and paedophilia. Yumi Stynes countered this on-air, defending the protesters and labeling KAK’s argument “racist”. 

Since then, KAK has faced further scrutiny with others pointing out the events were organised by Indigenous people (largely Indigenous women), and that Kennerley bizarrely undersold the number of people attending as 5000 (80,000 people are estimated to have turned up in Melbourne alone).

But it got Ms Tips wondering about Kennerley’s own work with the Indigenous communities, and it led us to a Daily Telegraph report from 1996:

OUTSPOKEN federal MP Pauline Hanson is being courted by the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes program in the hope she will be enticed out of her Queensland fish and chip shop and on to a Central Australian Aboriginal settlement …

The television coup was secured for Nine when the Midday show’s Kerri-Anne Kennerley issued an on-air challenge to Hanson to meet the targets of her political invective.

Initially Hanson baulked at the proposition, but under the steely glare of the Midday show audience, she reluctantly accepted the challenge.

Though a visit from Hanson is a somewhat dubious a gift at the best of times, it’s interesting to reflect on a time Kennerley tried to convince someone with strong views on Indigenous people to educate themselves out of lazy and inaccurate assumptions.

Atkins diet. Insiders returns this weekend, and a little Twitter storm got Ms Tips very curious about what was (or, perhaps, wasn’t) being said behind the scenes. Courier Mail editor Dennis Atkins poured out a stream of tweets about his involvement on the show, starting with criticism of the show’s perceived Sydney/Melbourne/Canberra bias.

After an hour of this, Atkins’ tune shifted slightly, tweeting “Sorry to spread what were apparently false alarmist talk about me and Insiders. I wasn’t dumped and they wanted me on the show”. He then shifted again, saying he “may not end up doing the show this year” and that he’d been given no “clear or even vague suggestion that I’ll get a go”.  

He’s since deleted the flurry of tweets, but a few responses referencing his belief he’s been dumped remain. The whole thing is rather odd and opaque, and we will be assiduously watching the make-up of Insiders panels.

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