Netflix has laid off some of its staff, many of whom have recently hired women of color. They were working on the streaming service’s new fan-focused website, Tudum, named after the sound of the Netflix logo.
Tudum was launched in December to take fans “behind the ‘streams’, with articles about shows and movies streaming on Netflix. For example, the site recently featured a story about toddlers in the japanese reality show Old enough! There was a story with a “scoop” about the latest episodes of Frankie and Graceand a look at who’s got a crush on whom in the teen series Heart stroke. Tudum also included a story about the history of food in Bridgerton Season 2, and another highlighting the show’s slow-burn romantic moments.
Some fans are just discovering Tudum, complaining that Netflix hasn’t done much to promote the website. And some of the writers and editors who lost their jobs were told the layoffs were part of Netflix’s plan to restructure its marketing department. The news comes shortly after news broke that the streamer has lost subscribers and its shares have plummeted.
Asked about the dismissal, a Netflix spokesperson wrote: “Our Tudum fan website is an important priority for the company.”
Well. I’ve just been laid off from a major contract originally slated to run through August, so I’m looking for stable work…and rent. I need rent.
— Nichole 🍞🍯 (@tnwhiskeywoman) April 28, 2022
The site is still in place, but a team of 10-12 writers and editors have been laid off. They worked on the culture and trend section of Tudum. They are experienced journalists who have previously worked for Vulture, Vice, teen vogue and The New York Times. Some were book authors or had their own pop culture podcasts. Most, if not all of the team were black, Latina, or Asian women.
“They went out of their way to hire high-profile journalists of color who have a certain notoriety and a lot of experience and talent. In a way, they were just buying weight to give credibility to their bet,” one member said. of the team told NPR, just hours after being released. The member said he signed a non-disclosure agreement when he was hired and therefore did not want his name used.
All of the team members had been recruited by Netflix with promises of editorial independence, exclusive interviews with Netflix talent, and secure, well-paying jobs.
It seemed like a dream job at first, they said, working with a diverse staff for good pay and plenty of resources and opportunities.
“We were courted quite aggressively. They sold us the most amazing thing you could want as a culture journalist or entertainment journalist. They just sold something that seemed impossible elsewhere,” they said. “But the main selling point was the salary.”
But in the short time the website has been around, they said the vision and strategy have changed. “They started to tighten up little by little. And then it became clear. It’s basically a content marketing job. It would have been nice if they had made that clear from the start.”
Instead of being able to write about anything they wanted regarding Netflix content, they were told not to say anything controversial, even if it was the subject of a documentary, for example. And any mention of movies that aren’t in the Netflix library have been removed from the site.
I actually had a piece in progress for Tudum – one that took me months to get the ability to write – about Kanye and the mourning of a relative after his death. So if any publishers want this piece let me know. It took ~A LOT~ of emotional labor to not accept less than $1/word. Thank you.
— Nneka M. Okona 🇳🇬 (@afrosypaella) April 29, 2022
“They’ve created a very jargon-like corporate environment where everything is extremely positive. So instead of saying, ‘No, don’t do that,’ they’re saying, ‘Do you think that’s something we should To do ? ” ” they said. “Still, I’m really proud of a lot of the stories that were made even with these tight parameters that were set and constantly changed. A lot of work was done because they hired some extremely talented people. That all reads like a lack of investment in a project that they didn’t properly plan or properly implement.”
The writers and editors worked full-time or part-time, on contract or full-time, and say they had no notice before losing their jobs. They were only offered two weeks of severance pay.
“People turned their lives upside down for this,” the former Tudum worker says, noting that in the past month many have received promotions.
Netflix recruited me seven months ago to fire me and a bunch of other talented people today. I’m going to take time to exist, so don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any open publishing and content strategy opportunities after August. [email protected]
— Evette Dionne (@freeblackgirl) April 28, 2022
Now they are scrambling for new jobs, sending out tweets asking for jobs.
He’s not the first streamer to fire people last week; something similar happened with CNN+, although in this case it wasn’t just one team, but the whole new streaming service.
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