[UPDATED] MSN.com says its freelance budget ‘has gone away entirely’

MSN.com has said farewell to its daily bloggers, columnists and features writers. Its freelance budget “is at $0 for the remainder of the fiscal year.” Here’s the memo MSN.com freelancers received Wednesday:

As I’m sure most of you are aware, about 2 months ago, Microsoft announced a restructuring plan to move from being a software company to a services and devices company. A few immediate changes followed for us including a new VP overseeing all online services,msn including MSN, who has a vastly different vision for our Web site than anything in the past 15 years. Fast forward a few weeks and our CEO announced his retirement. Things are changing super-fast at Microsoft and those changes have quickly made their way to our work that we do at MSN and at MSN Entertainment specifically.

Unfortunately, I am writing you to let you know that effective 10/1/2013 our freelance budget has gone away entirely. I wish I could say it’s been lowered substantially and we’d just be reducing the work we are doing, but to be honest, it has been taken away and is at $0 for the remainder of the fiscal year.

I know many of you contribute consistently on a daily basis or write columns/features and attend junkets for us regularly, and sadly those will all end as well. While we aren’t quite sure yet of some final direction of the site, I am sure that I speak for everyone on the team when I say that working with each of you has been a pleasure and we will truly miss all the interactions we have had.

UPDATE — A reader writes: “They’re also, apparently, laying many people off today. I say this because I was just laid off from MSN News (news.msn.com).”

UPDATE 2 — An MSN blogger writes in an email: “What I was told is that MSN is getting out of the original content business entirely but will content to publish content from other sources, such as the Wall Street Journal, Bankrate, etc. All the contractors who contributed to MSN Real Estate were told our contracts were ending Sept. 30. I believe this is also be true for the writers at MSN Money and some contract copyeditors, too.”

UPDATE 3 — An MSN spokesperson writes in an email: “We’re not saying anything on the record beyond the Seattle Times story.