Magazine article ADWEEK

Can the BuzzFeed Formula Work for Real News?

Magazine article ADWEEK

Can the BuzzFeed Formula Work for Real News?

Article excerpt

BuzzFeed, the meme-centric social news site known for its reserves of offbeat content and silly cat photos, is stockpiling journalists--serious ones.

Last week, it announced the hire of award-winning Rolling Stone writer Michael Hastings, adding to an impressive roster of reporters that include Gizmodo's Matt Buchanan, RollingStone. corn's Doree Shafrir, New York magazine's Amy Odell and, most notably, Politico powerhouse Ben Smith. The recent spate of big hires has even sparked its own Tumblr: http://hasbuzzfeedhiredanyonenewtoday.tumblr.com.

It's all part of an original content effort that CEO and co-founder Jonah Peretti said is intended to make BuzzFeed the Leading social publisher. "We've been hiring a new breed of reporter who combines traditional journalistic values with fluency for the social web," he said. "People can share and discover content on [social networks] and email. The big opportunity now is making content worth sharing."

Surely, every reporter believes their content is worth sharing. But as this new class of journalist attempts to remake BuzzFeed into a purveyor of consequential stories--not just catchy ones--what's to say that its scoops on politics and culture won't get lost amid the flood of posts labeled "lol," "cute" and "omg"?

In a world where people already get news from Facebook News Feeds and Twitter streams, that's not a big issue, said Peretti. "Consumers are used to seeing personal updates, mixed with cute cat pictures, mixed with election coverage," he said. …

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