Cheddar News fired half a dozen YouTube producers

  • The embattled chain Cheddar News cut six jobs in a small round of layoffs in April, Insider found.
  • The affected employees previously worked on Cheddar’s highly regarded YouTube video team.
  • One person cut was the head of News12 in New York and another had just returned from maternity leave, sources said.

Cheddar News has quietly laid off a half-dozen employees who previously worked on its esteemed YouTube team creating original video content, Insider has discovered.

Six people who worked on the team were cut by the controversial news organization in early April, according to three current and former Cheddar employees with direct knowledge of the cuts who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak with reporters. People whose roles were cut were pressured by departmental changes before the layoffs, which left some frustrated and confused, the sources noted.

One of the people cut was a former senior producer at Cheddar who earlier this year was promoted to head of News12 New York, a division owned by Altice USA, Cheddar’s parent company. Another was let go shortly after returning to work after maternity leave, two of the three sources said.

The job cuts come as Cheddar struggles with directional changes and leadership changes that have destroyed morale and left its newsroom ranks depleted by a series of defections, the people said. As Insider reported earlier this year, Cheddar sources said that management indicated that cost-cutting and profitability concerns were behind the shift in strategy to creating YouTube original content, which Cheddar had been doing for years.

Laid-off employees were notified in late March of the cuts, said one of the people, a former Cheddar employee, who added: “We all know, even before that, that it was kind of a sinking ship,” describing the sentiments among the newsroom staff and on-air talent. After the staff reassignments, this person said, some producers hoped to create content that had an educational documentary feel, while management pushed them to focus on “drama and glamour” and tension.

“We are proud of our Cheddar News team and do not comment on rumors or speculation,” an Altice USA spokesperson wrote in an email on Friday, without pointing out details after Insider sent the company detailed points reflected in this report. .

During its heyday, Cheddar’s YouTube channel was a home for exclusive videos and reported explanations that often received millions of views, covering topics of how skyscrapers were built after 9/11 (4.1 million views) to the exploits of Anna Delvey, a former Russian socialite who has infiltrated the New York party scene (7.6 million views). Last month, the network posted two videos on the channel, sharing television interviews, and the ratings were lukewarm: both got less than 8,000 views.

Meanwhile, legacy and digital newsrooms everywhere have been affected by layoffs and closures at units like BuzzFeed News. At Altice USA, news and advertising revenues are down nearly 14% year-over-year, according to the company’s most recent earnings report earlier this month. The company’s shares have plummeted about 78% in the last 12 months.

Altice, which purchased Cheddar in 2019, has decided to implement a series of content changes to the 7-year-old news channel in mid-2022. Cheddar’s YouTube producers were moved in late 2022 to work on other parts of the business, as multimedia journalists at News12 stations in New York or in Cheddar’s special projects unit, which worked on programming destined to air on various platforms owned by Altice.

The decision took staff members by surprise at the time, sources said — mainly because the YouTube team was respected for its corporate reporting and the channel itself was approaching a million subscribers, although subscriber growth slowed with the end. of the pandemic-era lockdowns.

Cheddar has continued to lay off employees since last year, fueling burnout and frustration among those who remain. One of Cheddar’s remaining executive producers, tasked with overseeing special projects, has reportedly left, according to two of the sources. The departure follows similar departures from three of the network’s four executive producers in its newsgathering division this spring, as Insider reported in March.

Separately, two high-profile TV industry sources, asking not to be named in this story to preserve industry relationships, confirmed to Insider that Kristin Malaspina, chief content officer for Altice USA, made overtures earlier this year to recruit an executive. to help lead Cheddar News – but such an appointment does not appear to have materialized. (Malaspina did not respond to a request for comment.)

As of late May, Altice USA’s hiring website lists several open roles, including freelance video editor and social media producer. Current and former Cheddar employees who spoke to the Insider said they were unaware of the personnel changes at the top of the organization and that the few reinforcements the chain has brought in in recent months have not made up for the continued departures.

“Some people have recently reported,” the former employee quoted earlier said, “and they’re also out and about.”

Claire Atkinson contributed reports.

Do you work for Cheddar News or Altice USA, or are you a member of the media with information to share? Please contact this reporter. Reed Alexander can be contacted via email at ralexander@insider.comor SMS/the Signal encrypted app at (561) 247-5758.

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