Ben Smith BuzzFeed, which laid off 15% of its staff earlier this year, has made a big new hire to grow its news business

Ben Smith BuzzFeed, which laid off 15% of its staff earlier this year, has made a big new hire to grow its news business

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  • BuzzFeed, which is eyeing profitability for the second half of the year, has hired a new exec to get its news business sustainable.
  • Samantha Henig, who until May was executive producer of audio for The New York Times, will be executive director of strategy for BuzzFeed News.
  • She’s charged with building out new revenue streams through initiatives like events, podcasts, and membership.
  • BuzzFeed News also is looking for its first dedicated ad sales person.
  • The digital publisher said it’s on track to be profitable this year but that the news division still isn’t profitable.
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BuzzFeed, which is eyeing profitability for the second half of the year, has hired a new exec to drum up revenue for its news business.

Samantha Henig was executive producer of audio for The New York Times until May and was credited with helping build a new department from scratch. The flagship podcast “The Daily” just hit one billion downloads since it started in early 2017, and it’s become a template for other podcasts.

Read more:BuzzFeed cut 15% of its staff, and some critics are now taking shots at CEO Jonah Peretti’s strategy

At BuzzFeed News, Henig will be executive director of strategy, a new role, and report to editor in chief Ben Smith. She’s charged with building revenue through initiatives that could include events, membership, podcasts, and ad sales. Publishers also see growing opportunity to make money from platforms with the likes of Facebook and Apple compensating publishers for their content.

Smith said as the news organization matured, he saw a big opportunity to build a business off it and that Henig was the right person to do it because of her combination of experience.

“She’s a journalist first, but really understands th

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