BuzzFeed News has learned that the “bulk” of Pottermore.com’s editorial staff has been let go, dealing a significant blow to the content strategy Pottermore has had in place in recent years.
Pottermore is the official website of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, which in recent years has offered a slew of BuzzFeed-like editorial content, official announcements, and occasional writing by the Harry Potter author.
BuzzFeed’s report, confirmed by Pottermore, says that the website “sacked a string of editorial staff over the last few days, including both senior and junior staff who were making original content for the website.”
In a statement, Pottermore told BuzzFeed that, “as a result of a reorganisation at Pottermore, there have been a small number of job losses. These reflect the evolution of the business and are being handled as sensitively as possible.”
A source speaking to BuzzFeed said “editorial writers had struggled with writing freely about the Harry Potter universe, especially when actor Johnny Depp was cast as evil wizard Grindelwald for the Fantastic Beasts films, a decision that was controversial among Potter fans.”
The source added, “Reporting from inside a franchise that so values its secrecy has been limiting because there’s so much [Pottermore] can’t say that other outlets can. I’d say, as an important side note, that they’ve also suffered from a very sad waning in confidence from fans since the decision to cast Johnny Depp.”
Hypable and our Harry Potter podcast MuggleCast have frequently been critical of Pottermore’s editorial content. The site has attempted to walk a line between a fansite and an official source, but the two are hard to simultaneously balance.
For example, a recent Pottermore article about the Crimes of Grindelwald trailer noted that in one scene, Grindelwald is “accompanied by a well-dressed witch carrying what looks like an orb. We’ve seen magical orbs represented as prophecies before, so that might be worth thinking about…”
So… is Pottermore confirming that Grindelwald is holding a prophecy? Aren’t we to assume this is true since Pottermore is J.K. Rowling’s website? Questions like this one are a reason why Pottermore is unable to function as both a speculative fan site and an official resource.
The very random articles like “7 times Harry and Ron were funnier than Fred and George,” “Things you may not have noticed about Remus Lupin,” and “The weirdest books of the Wizarding World” are another reason.
It’ll be interesting to see how Pottermore changes in light of letting its editorial staff go.