Gizmodo Media Group has accepted voluntary buyout requests from 44 staffers as part of a round of corporate belt-tightening. Parent company Univision, which bought most of the sites that made up Gawker Media Group in 2016, had called for a significant round of layoffs — a trend seen across other media companies over the past year.
“These continue to be anxious, difficult days in media. We are seeing competitors struggle as a result of seemingly arbitrary decisions by outside platforms and we are under constant attack — not just from online trolls but also our own government. But I know of no more meaningful way to meet those attacks and this overall moment than to show up, continue our work and demonstrate that we will not be silenced by the whims of powerful people who don’t want to be held accountable or exposed. It is that defiance that defines us and it will continue to be our core mission,” Gizmodo Media Group editorial director Susie Banikarim said in a note to staff.
The 44 employees who opted to take the buyout seem to have averted more significant layoffs, according to Banikarim.
“As the union has likely informed you, the response to the voluntary package was significant enough for us to avoid any newsroom layoffs. While that is the outcome for which we’d hoped, any relief is bittersweet because it comes with the loss of talented and valued colleagues whose countless contributions will be greatly missed. We will allow them to share their news in their own time and in their own way,” Banikarim wrote.
The buyouts give staffers 18 weeks of severance and health insurance, which is being touted as a win by the union and a motivating force for other media companies to form their own unions.
“As we mourn the departure of dozens of our colleagues due to corporate-mandated budget cuts, the Gizmodo Media Group union would also like to spread the word about what’s possible with union power. In response to early reports that Univision wanted up to 30 percent of the staff at GMG involuntarily laid off, our union organized, mobilized members, and stood united to cut the number in half, to 15 percent,” the Gizmodo Media Group union, which was organized under Writers Guild of America, East, wrote in a statement released on Twitter. “We also demanded and won voluntary buyouts — including four and a half months of salary and benefits — rather than layoffs. This was not a contract negotiation. It was simply an act of workers coming together to assert their power with the company. By remaining united, we saved jobs and put money in the pockets of those leaving. Workers must be partners in company decisions.”