Shani Hilton, who worked as an editorial executive at BuzzFeed for six years, left the company yesterday to take a position at the Los Angeles Times.
Hilton joined BuzzFeed in 2013. In 2016, she was named vice president of news and programming for the company’s more serious editorial arm, BuzzFeed News. After BuzzFeed’s January layoffs cut 43 journalists from the News team, Hilton was instrumental in running the streamlined division that remained, per The Hollywood Reporter.
She departed BuzzFeed yesterday, and will begin her new position as the Times’ deputy managing editor of news on June 3. In that position, she’ll focus on a number of operational areas: digital strategy, newsroom operations, events, budgeting, video programming, recruiting, and driving subscriptions.
“I’ve basically done everything that you can do [at Buzzfeed], essentially, at one point or another,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. She added that she wasn’t actively looking for another job, but was poached by the Times’ deputy managing editor Sewell Chan. “I’m from California and I’m really psyched to be moving back. The job was too appealing, and it felt like a really big, needed one,” she explained.
Hilton also said she thinks BuzzFeed News is still “poised to do incredible work because the level of ambition is so high. The company is still totally dedicated to what we do.” She added that she found “real compassion” working for BuzzFeed, and, “It’s not the fake ‘we’re a family’ bullsh-t, it’s really like, ‘We are doing good work together and we are kind to each other, and that’s what makes it so special.’”
BuzzFeed’s editor in chief, Ben Smith, sent out a staff memo today informing colleagues of Hilton’s departure. “She’s been crucial to much of our strategy, growth, and success,” he wrote. “She’s also been my closest partner in building this place, and I am going to miss her both personally and professionally.”
Her leaving comes on the heels of another high-profile exit: Ze Frank, a longtime exec who developed much of BuzzFeed’s video strategy, stepped down last week from his position as head of research and development. Unlike Hilton, Frank appears to have left without another position secured.