Search Results For buzzfeed

It runs articles by third parties attacking other newspapers’ integrity – yes integrity –  for money.  Update from a reader:

I think that BuzzFeed article is especially problematic because it’s actually just impossible to tell (likely purposefully impossible) exactly what a “Community Brand Publisher” is.

When you go to the site, the article disclaimer says: “This post was created by a Community Brand Publisher, which means it is not sponsored and has not been vetted or endorsed by BuzzFeed’s editorial staff.” While the “not sponsored” is likely meant to be read “not sponsored … by BuzzFeed’s editorial staff”, it could also be taken to mean that the article is not “sponsored content.” That reading would suggest that BuzzFeed had not been paid to run it, though it seems that they have. This is further confused by their use of the term “Community Brand Publisher”… the BuzzFeed “Community” is open to anyone and makes no mention of any payment, but I can’t determine what exactly a “Community Brand Publisher” is. Searching the term on Buzzfeed gives no results, and searching on Google seems to return a bunch of posts by these “Community Brand Publishers”, rather than any real definition of what that means.

It seems like Buzzfeed (through the use of the word “Community” and the lack of explanation of what that means) is trying to confuse their readers as much as possible while covering their asses (being able to say “well look, we clearly noted that it was a Community Brand Publisher, not someone from the Community”). An embarrassment to journalism indeed.

The Karma Of Buzzfeed

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 29 2014 @ 2:43pm

Check out this post by Maria Popova on Ralph Steadman’s illustrations for an edition of Orwell’s Animal Farm, posted April 25. Now check out this Buzzfeed listicle on Ralph Steadman’s illustrations for an edition of Orwell’s Animal Farm, posted April 29. Maria vents here. Not even a hat-tip?

Update: Buzzfeed has since deleted the listicle.

The NYT Follows Buzzfeed

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 8 2014 @ 2:15pm

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The pinnacle of American journalism is now hiring a Dell employee to write its “articles”:

“We wanted to start with someone who we thought really understood how to be a great storyteller,” said Meredith Kopit Levien, evp of advertising for the Times. “And [Dell global communications managing editor] Stephanie Losee was [a writer] at Fortune. She has deep journalistic chops herself. So this was a very deliberate choice to go with Dell.”

Let me get this straight: the New York Times is hiring a copy-writer as a pseudo-journalist because she used to work as a real journalist. Time Inc is now having its “editors” report directly to the business side and the NYT is opening its elegant blue-stocking legs as wide as it decently can to accommodate a computer company. This passage was particularly revealing:

Dell used its launch ad to spotlight stories on topics like millennials in the workplace, marketing tech and women entrepreneurs. The campaign, which is set to run for three months, contains a mix of content from its own newsroom, articles from the Times’ archives and original stories by Times-contracted freelancers on Dell-chosen topics.

My italics. So Dell is now a “newspaper” partnering with the New York Times. By which I mean that the New York Times will actually hire people to write Dell’s ad copy and make it look as close to the rest of the paper as possible. Then this:

After Dell, a handful of other clients whom the Times wouldn’t name have committed to using the product in the coming months. But the labor and cost of creating native ads is a hurdle, and the Times made it clear that it sees the product as suited to only a limited number of advertisers. It won’t come cheap for the Times, either, which is looking to hire a dozen or so people for a “content studio” to staff the effort.

Always follow Orwell to the language. Have you ever heard of a newspaper having a “content studio” before?

Note that the NYT is not simply taking Dell’s ad-copy and gussying it up to deceive casual readers into thinking this advertizing is editorial (with a firm disclosure as a fig leaf). They are creating an in-house team to write the fricking ad-copy and calling it “content”. So what is the rest of the paper? Non-content? What is a newsroom but a content-studio?

Yes, they will add a clear identifier – and better than most. But, as Adweek notes, since the whole point of native advertizing is to deceive the inattentive readers into reading it because it looks an awful lot like regular copy – this is a very wobbly and blurry distinction. And when viral pages get completely disconnected from the rest of a news-site, the clear contrast between ads and journalism is close to invisible.

So look: it’s time to congratulate Jonah Peretti. He sure is winning. The business of journalism is now indistinguishable from the business of public relations. The New York Times has a newsroom. And so does Dell. Dell has an advertizing department – and the New York Times helps staff it. In the future, most big companies will have their own newsrooms (read: propaganda/advertizing outlets) and independent journalistic institutions will just have competing newsrooms, increasingly dependent on the corporate in-house “content studios” and answerable to them. At some point, and certainly at the rate we’re seeing, the distinction will soon evaporate altogether.

We are all in public relations now. Thanks, Mr Sulzberger.

The Truthiness Of Buzzfeed

Andrew Sullivan —  Dec 4 2013 @ 11:43am

Over Thanksgiving, TV producer Elan Gale live-tweeted a lengthy, outrageous confrontation with a fellow airplane passenger. It became a viral sensation, understandably amped up by Buzzfeed’s viral algorithms. Pity the entire thing was a complete hoax, designed, according to Gale, to prove that whether something is, you know, true or not matters little in the era of lucrative viral posts. He got his proof. Buzzfeed got 1.3 million pageviews on the hoax. Which is why I’m relieved that Dave Weigel is happy to take a tiny bit of time to wonder why no one checked the story at Buzzfeed, and when the hoax became obvious, why they simply switched out their previous story with another post praising the “epic” scam. Weigel notes:

This is fairly fucked. Yes, people on the Internet want to believe salacious stories. Reporters want to publish stories that people read. If there’s a great reward, and little downside, to be had in publishing bullshit, the Internet’s going to get more bullshit. As one of my colleagues put it, “‘Too good to check’ used to be a warning to newspaper editors not to jump on bullshit stories. Now it’s a business model.”

It sure is – and, along with advertizing deliberately designed to deceive readers into thinking it’s editorial, it could bring $120 million in revenue next year for the entertainment and public relations site. In due course, it appears Buzzfeed came up with a response to Dave. Money quote from BuzzFeed news director Lisa Tozzi:

We used the word “claiming” to describe Elan’s tweets, and updated our post several times as it appeared to unfold—but we should have make that skepticism clearer. We’re not in the business of publishing hoaxes and we feel an enormous responsibility here to provide our readers with accurate, up-to-date information.

Well that’s a relief, until you think some more about it. By gleefully running unchecked hoaxes, and then insisting that they really do care about truth, Buzzfeed muddies the waters still further.  What’s striking to me about Buzzfeed is that they haven’t really sufficiently thought through what it means to deliberately deceive readers by running advertizing as editorial, or what it means to be both an instant entertainment provider whose success is measured in jumping on viral waves seconds before their competitors, and to claim to be journalism.

In trying to be both under one brand, they are unwittingly doing a lot of damage both to a generation’s core understanding of what journalism actually is – the viral hoax was “reported” by “reporter” Rachel Zarrell – and to any understanding of how journalism is any different from copy-writing.

There are many excellent reporters at Buzzfeed doing their best, which is often very good. I don’t like writing posts like this that may seem to them like personal attacks. They’re really not. All I can say is that I don’t think they have fully grasped how being part of an entertainment/public relations site whose core mission is making money can in any way be compatible with the profession formerly known as journalism. Just because you wish it to be so does not make it so. Only when they put their actual journalism in a clearly separate space than their entertainment, and only when they stop deliberately blurring advertizing with editorial, will they be able to retain a journalistic soul. But that, of course, would end their business model entirely.

Previous Dish on the Buzzfeed model here, here, here and here.

Copyranter claims that one of the reasons he was fired from Buzzfeed was blowback from advertisers:

Because BuzzFeed had grown so big so fast, they didn’t want some loose cannon highlighting the shitty ads of potential or current big name advertisers. Yeah, that’s a pretty good reason to fire enhanced-buzz-11511-1378148297-13 (1)me. Being a visionary, I brought this point up in my initial interview with Ben Smith. He said, more or less, “You don’t worry about that, that’s my problem.” Boy oh boy did it become his problem. Ben Smith made me delete a post I did on Axe Body Spray’s ads, titled, “The Objectification Of Women By Axe Continues Unabated in 2013” (it was initially called something to the effect of “Axe Body Spray Continues its Contribution to Rape Culture,” but I quickly softened it). Get this: he made me delete it one month after it was posted, due to apparent pressure from Axe’s owner Unilever. How that’s for editorial integrity? Ben Smith also questioned other posts I did knocking major advertisers’ ads (he kept repeating the phrase “punching down”), including the pathetically pandering, irresponsible Nike “Fat Boy” commercial.

Ben responds:

We parted ways with Mark in because his tone and vision are really different from ours. In particular, it’s important to him to make charges — and in one case, imagine dialogue — without the reporting to support them. That’s something he is perhaps doing with me here. Our editorial team operates independently of advertisers, and I’ve never based a decision about reporting on an advertiser’s needs. In fact, if you glance at his page, you’ll see any number of unflattering posts about businesses, some advertisers and some not (and I’m not always in the loop on which is which); in both cases, I took the angry calls and emails and usually didn’t tell him about them, which is what I think an editor is supposed to do.

You can keep up with Copyranter at his new perch at Vice and his own blog.

Buzzfeed Goes Global

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 30 2013 @ 2:19pm

Evgeny Morozov expects the site’s new translation project to hurt foreign news outlets:

Here is BuzzFeed’s version of “global village”: If its plan works, more and more people around the globe will be reading about U.S. popular culture in their native languages. No, what it is interested in is taking viral stories that have already proven their worth in English and taking them global, conquering even more eyeballs that were previously hard to reach due to language barriers.

In the process, it gains even more traffic and could someday enter local advertising markets—BuzzFeed is launching local editions in Spanish, French, and Brazilian Portuguese, too. National news players that produce genuine hard news—the kind that takes money to report and might not receive many likes and shares on social networks, as it focuses on issues that are grim rather than viral—would have a powerful new competitor.

There’s no scenario in which BuzzFeed’s “cosmopolitan turn” is good for foreign news sites: They will be pressed to either soften up their own news coverage—to boost social media friendliness—or be faced with the prospect of making even less money off their online advertising.

The Buzzfeed model is not inevitable; it gets tired pretty quickly; and it can and has financed real journalism – like Ben Smith’s or Chris Geidner’s or McKay Coppins’. We’ll adapt. But Buzzfeed’s voracity could do a lot of damage to real journalism in the long run. Its core innovation – passing off advertizing as editorial, and refusing to call it advertorial – has spread far and wide to almost every media outlet. I mean, when you read Forbes now, do you really know if you’re reading something paid for by a company or written by an actual independent journalist? I can’t unless I take time to examine it very closely.

Update from a reader:

The passage in question, as quoted on the Dish, is from a previous version of the Slate article that contained several errors. Slate has since issued a correction and removed or altered sentences from the portion of the article quoted.

Our pull-quote from Morozov’s piece has now been replaced with the updated version. Slate‘s full correction is after the jump:

This article originally used different analytics platforms to compare the BBC’s and BuzzFeed’s traffic. The sentence about the BBC has been removed because the comparisons are not exact. The piece also said that “The Viral Web in Real Time” is BuzzFeed’s motto. It was a prominently displayed tag line on the site for some time, but no longer is. The article also said that BuzzFeed is not interested in bringing local foreign news to the English-language blogosphere; BuzzFeed has a foreign editor and correspondents in Turkey, Syria, and Moscow. That sentence has been removed. The article also originally suggested that BuzzFeed is entering local advertising markets in foreign countries. BuzzFeed is not currently in local markets.

The original pull-quote, for the record:

BuzzFeed does not seem to be interested in finding overlooked stories in the foreign press and bringing them to the masses, in English or in any other language. No, what it is interested in is taking viral stories that have already proven their worth in English and taking them global, conquering even more eyeballs that were previously hard to reach due to language barriers.

In the process, it gains even more traffic and enters local advertising markets—BuzzFeed is launching local editions in Spanish, French, and Brazilian Portuguese, too. National news players that produce genuine hard news—the kind that takes money to report and might not receive many likes and shares on social networks, as it focuses on issues that are grim rather than viral—would have a powerful new competitor.

There’s no scenario in which BuzzFeed’s “cosmopolitan turn” is good for foreign news sites: They will be pressed to either soften up their own news coverage—to boost social media friendliness—or be faced with the prospect of making even less money off their online advertising.

A glimpse. My faves:

1912: Six Titanic Survivors Who Should Have Died

1968: This Year’s Assassinations Ranked From Most To Least Tragic

The Seeds Of Buzzfeed

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 1 2013 @ 10:49am

Abby Rabinowitz traces “meme” from its coinage in Richard Dawkins’s 1976 book The Selfish Gene to its current incarnation:

Pinpointing when memes first made the leap to the Internet is tricky. Nowadays, we might think of the dancing baby, also known as Baby Cha-Cha, that grooved into our inboxes in the 1990s. It was a kind of proto-meme, but no one called it that at the time. The first reference I could find to an “Internet meme” appeared in a footnote in a 2003 academic article, describing an important event in the life of Jonah Peretti, co-founder of the hugely successful websites The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed.

In 2001, as a procrastinating graduate student at MIT, Peretti decided to order a pair of Nike sneakers customized to read “sweatshop.” Nike refused. Peretti forwarded the email exchange to friends, who sent it on and on, until the story leapt to the mainstream media, where Peretti debated a Nike representative on NBC’s Today Show. Peretti later wrote, “Without really trying, I had released what biologist Richard Dawkins calls a meme.” …

According to a recent profile in New York Magazine, the Nike experience was formative for Peretti, who created BuzzFeed with the explicit goal of creating viral Internet memes. The company uses a formula called “Big Seed Marketing,” that begins with an equation describing the growth of a virus, the spread of a disease.

Clearly-not-a-reader writes:

I work for Cision, a global pr/marketing software company. We are looking for sites who have “sponsored content” opportunities, much like advertorials. I was hoping you could tell me whether you and your site The Dish accept sponsored content written by or for brands. If you do, I would love to learn about how much you charge, get your contact information, and get a better understanding of the program so that I can pass that information on to the 10,000 clients of Cision. Thank you for your time.

Meanwhile, David Carr finds a web ad guru who is beginning to wonder whether “sponsored content” might be a mistake for journalism, paving the way for its destruction:

“I completely understand the value of native advertising,” Mr. McCambley said, “but there are a number of publishers who are allowing P.R. firms and advertising agencies direct access to their content management systems and allowing them to publish directly to the site. I think that is a huge mistake. “It is a very slippery slope and could kill journalism if publishers aren’t careful,” he said.

He’s right. Publishers might build a revenue ledge through innovation of the advertising format, but the confusion that makes it work often diminishes the host publication’s credibility.

Business models that treat journalism as a tool primarily for advertisers will kill journalism in the end. Because I mean by journalism not a platform for entertaining corporate-sponsored listicles, but an established fourth estate that readers trust as independent, transparent, and truth-seeking. If journalism is so enmeshed in selling things that ads and editorial are one hard-to-define mush, then its core value – independent editorial judgment – is inevitably debased.

Of course, this may not matter to those who, like the business geniuses behind Forbes, Buzzfeed, the Atlantic et al, are concerned above all with profits. Journalism, for many of them, is just a means to money. Which means, if they keep calling the shots, journalism is in danger of disappearing quietly, like a law repealing itself.

Update from a reader:

A point of clarification about that contact from Cision. That was most likely not a marketing message. Cision maintains a online database of information about media outlets, including online sites. Included in that database of information would be confirmation if that site accepts sponsored content. People like me use that information to determine if we can approach an outlet to place sponsored content. They were probably contacting you just to update their database.

Just a little nugget of news I missed last month from the phenomenally financially successful site, Buzzfeed. It has a new feature called a Listiclock, which was developed, of course, with Pepsi. Anthony Ha recently marveled at it:

Every 10 minutes, the minute display will show a list that’s specifically sponsored by Pepsi — apparently, these lists are supposed to be “‘unbelievable,’ fun, and amazing” but aside from a few mentions of Pepzi Next, I’m not sure most readers will be able to detect a big difference between a normal BuzzFeed list and sponsored piece like “10 Traditions You Probably Didn’t Know About.”

Ya think? Then this little gaffe:

This isn’t the first time BuzzFeed has offered a new way to navigate the site as part of an ad campaign, either — a couple of months ago I wrote about the site’s “Flight Mode”, which was promoting GE Aviation’s presence at the Paris Air Show. BuzzFeed President and COO Jon Steinberg told me that ideas often pass back-and-forth between the company’s ad side and editorial side, and that he’s actually interested in exploring a non-sponsored, desktop version of the Listiclock.

At what point will Jonah Peretti acknowledge that it’s all advertizing-as-entertainment and be done with it?