Leading technology media website CNET has become the latest name in a long list to axe multiple employees, according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation. Media reports have, since then confirmed the fact, and revealed that the tech news and reviews site is laying off nearly 10% of its editorial staff.
The round of layoffs is set to affect around a dozen employees, including those who have been part of the site for a long time. The layoffs began on Thursday morning after Red Ventures, the digital media and marketing company that owns CNET since 2020, announced it internally via email. A spokesperson for CNET informed that the decision to axe the company’s veterans did not reflect “the value or performance of our team members, the use of emerging technologies, or our confidence in the CNET Group’s future,” and that it was “critical for the longevity and future growth of the business.”
“To prepare ourselves for a strong future, we will need to focus on how we simplify our operations and our tech stack, and also on how we invest our time and energy,” Carlos Angrisano, president of financial services and the CNET Group at Red Ventures, wrote. The email went on to inform that the job cuts would help the media site prioritize its focus on areas where it can successfully bring in greater traffic on Google search. For news websites, better SEO (search engine optimization, which refers to the practice of improving website visibility and ranking on search engines like Google in order to increase website traffic and reach a wider audience) results in a greater amount of traffic on Google search.
Going forward, CNET will be focussing on the consumer technology, home and wellness, energy, broadband, and personal finance sectors, which is in line with Angrisano’s statement that CNET (and Red Ventures) will focus on areas where “a high degree of authority, relevance, differentiation” is available, and succeeding in the areas will “set the groundwork for future expansion and create the right conditions for a high-growth, sustainable business.”
CNET has been a major player in the technology media industry for over two decades, with a reputation for high-quality reporting and reviews. However, it recently became the center of controversy after it was revealed that the site had resorted to AI to produce articles – since November, over 70 articles have appeared with the byline “CNET Money Staff,” but were actually generated by AI tools. Once the development was brought to light, the backlash and public outcry caused CNET to halt the use of AI to generate articles on its website for better SEO. Following an audit of the AI-generated stories, CNET discovered factual errors in 41 articles.
However, CNET maintained that the current round of layoffs was unrelated to the AI controversy. Some of the notable names to have been axed in the round of layoffs include editor-in-chief Connie Guglielmo (who defended the use of the AI-writing tool to generate stories). Guglielmo is set to become the senior vice president of AI content strategy and editor-at-large. Adam Auriemma, former editor-in-chief of NextAdvisor, another Red Ventures-owned outlet, will be her successor.