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BuzzFeed to Cut 15% of Its Workforce (wsj.com)
183 points by taytus 53 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 237 comments

Disclosure: I work at BuzzFeed.

It's worth noting that other journalism companies have announced layoffs today with Gannett (https://www.poynter.org/business-work/2019/gannett-lays-off-...) and Verizon/Yahoo/Oath (https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/23/tech/verizon-media-layoffs/in...). Tough day for the industry. :(

Don't expect everyone to feel sorry for media outlets who inflame our current divisions, destroy teenagers lives and publish gossip masquerading as journalism. And thats just this week alone!

What you describe hardly speaks for the majority of journalists. There are always exceptions to every rule, but they are just that: exceptions. Most of them are passionate, thorough journalists and writers, and it's very hard to get paid decently for that. And to the journalists that _do_ write inflammatory pieces, I'd argue that you could just as easily point to software engineers that have compromised their own ethics in exchange for large salaries from tech companies.

Depends if you include the current mob of professional bloggers in there, because they sure outnumber the real journalists. They're really just word laborers, as they constantly have to produce fresh content to draw in new clicks. Unlike real knowledge work, it's a blue collar job now, just one that requires literacy.

Passion is also a poor substitute for knowledge. Gell-Mann Amnesia is still as true as ever too. The entire profession has an undeserved reputation of accuracy and impartiality, and now they're eagerly self-destructing what remains of it.

Most of all, they always stay within the same broad lines. As I saw someone observe recently... If the French gilets jaunes were happening in a South American country, would the coverage be remotely the same? When it comes time to beat the American war drum, will the result be any different from the last couple of times?

The envy of tech, and the associated aspersions are also highly misplaced. Nobody forced the press to embed five dozen trackers on every page and chase clickbait with informational junkfood. Nobody forced them to give up their autonomy to social media, instead of building their own infrastructure. The people whose self image put them several rungs above those icky nerds are still inappropriately bitter about that inversion of status, for sure.

To me, the model for 21st century journalism seems obvious: wikipedia, except not written by the obsessed and the mentally ill. Give me an ever-updating impartial dossier on each major topic and conflict, sorting the wheat from the chaff, and providing a timeline of key events with deeper elaborations one click away.

If the profession matched its self image, they'd have succeeded at doing something like that, instead of racing buzzfeed to the bottom.

Personally I'm really waiting for the rest of that 85% to go.

> Software engineers that have compromised their own ethics in exchange for large salaries from tech companies.

Software engineers are not in a profession that is explicitly designed around seeking the truth.

No, but like journalists, they (we) have a job that gives them influence over those who use their products. We facilitate the discourse and the dispersal of news that most journalism agencies must now use. Not even 20 years ago, news agencies held this same role.

rhegart 53 days ago [flagged]

It’s so weird that out of a group of black men calling children homophobic F word, n words, a bunch of racist stuff. A Native American telling kids without provocation to go back to Europe, this is our land we don’t want you, and a bunch of kids doing a school chant, the entire left and center media went after a kid smirking.

They didn’t even cover the racist stuff said against the kids. Just some fluff about white supremacy, and MAGA hat being akin to KKK. All the headlines were inflamatory racial tensions inciting and all the corrections were STILL misleading and headlines seeming the kids were wrong. I’m talking about NYtimes, cnn, msnbc, not just the buzzfeed rags.

And then they pull up a picture from 4 years ago that’s misleading and not at all related to the kids. Get called out for fake news, and then they push another fake narrative from an out of context video and that turns out that the kid isn’t even from the school. Then finally another fake narrative about some kid not allowed to speak because he’s gay, turned out fake.

The journalists on twitter wishing for death to the kid based off a smirking clip and no rebuke for the actual racists are terrible human beings who themselves are racist. I unsubscribed from the NYTimes over this. Fox News during peak birther conspiracy wasn’t a 1/10th of this ridiculousness. Legit racists run these companies and legit racist are employed.

Oh and get this, just saw on Facebook my High School History teacher posted a bunch of basketball players holding up the “3 point shot” sign arguing how the school is racist because apparently an “ok” sign is code for white supremacy when literally every nba player makes it after a shot. That post has 35 likes. It’s like our collective IQ dropped 30 points in 2016. There’s a certain rationality you expect when you have a discussion with someone that seems to have completely dissipated into emotional tribalism.

So sad a factual post is being flagged on HN. This isn't a matter of politics - Bari Weiss from th NYT has poured through all the footage and her conclusions are the same as your own.

dmode 53 days ago [flagged]

Oh please !! The conservative media posts and have posted thousands of explicitly racist articles about Obama. Trump was the biggest birther conspiracy theory, the root of which was unbridled racism [1] He even said that he has investigators in Hawaii finding things about his birth certificate. Trump also said Mexican judges are incompetent, white supramacists are same as counter protestors, immigrants are criminal and commit crimes, set-up a hotline for people to complain about crimes committed by immigrants, constantly retweets famous white supramacists, dog whistles on every speech, trashes death of black folks on the hands of police, should I go on ? Pardon me if I don’t feel the same amount of sympathy for teenagers wearing MAGA hats. If you align with explicit racists, be ready if the world thinks of you in that terms.

[1] https://youtu.be/OOA4ziGl5ZQ

rhegart 53 days ago [flagged]

This is the emotional response I was describing in my post. These people have this emotional outburst and have an urge to immediately demonize the other side almost as if their reputation and perhaps the world is at stake. They don’t try to understand or have any nuance. It’s done by the right and left, though more so the left lately.

The main premise of your argument is that the birther situation is racist and a big deal. In my post that’s what I clearly stated. The most racist and stupidest thing I’d seen journalists do in my lifetime was the Obama birther BS supported by Fox News and I commented that even that was 1/10th of this Covington story. They were calls for doxing minors liked hundreds of thousands of times by popular celebrities and journalists based on an innocuous clip and 10,000 plus death threats. Likely hundreds of thousands of people like you feeling no sympathy for teenagers getting death threats wearing MAGA hats and completely ignoring the blatant racism against them. The difference between us 2 is that I condemn the racism against Obama and the racism against these kids and I do feel pity for the other side. You’re quite off the deep end if you don’t.

I’m sure this individual was a very bright person pre 2016, but the collective 30 point iq drop seems to have had an unequal effect, harming some more than others as clearly demonstrated here.

It is good to read that some people are at least trying to take a measured view of things that are happening. I don't know how to handle the "news" these days other than to ignore it completely. People are just too interested in being entertained on a simplistic level I guess. It is really hard to watch.

This type of behavior is going to cause civil war in Western countries. It is beginning to reach absurd levels, even when facts change there are too many who refuse to acknowledge the situation.

My response was fairly civil until my last paragraph but I felt that emotional need to attack because I felt attacked. I kept it in there on purpose and I clearly am part of the problem here.

Today we had a white man kill a black man allegedly due to wanting to start a race war (I didn’t double check and media lies like crazy so might be misleading, but let’s assume it’s true). You have Breitbart and other far right rags basically baiting this. Inflaming racial tensions like crazy. Against blacks, Hispanics, and Asians via crime, illegal immigration, and h1b abuse. They take 3 legit problems and tie racial tensions to them to cause division and hatred.

The left which went off the deep end after Trump are doing the same thing demonizing white people, men, and the wealthy from legitimate problems of race, violence, and income inequality. You take these already serious problems and tie race divisions to them and you get the fringes to grow larger and the extremists to increase in number. More and more will do extremist things. I mean you have a poster here that doesn’t care about kids getting death threats and tries to defend it by mentioning unrelated issues and HN is way critical thinking than the average person.

There is no media or journalists, just propaganda and propagandaists.

I think Twitter is a huge problem that has really inflamed this.

> I’m sure this individual was a very bright person pre 2016, but the collective 30 point iq drop seems to have had an unequal effect, harming some more than others as clearly demonstrated here.

Do not do this on HN.

dmode 53 days ago [flagged]

Your last line really revealed you. Didn't it ?

You can't differentiate between some twitter trolls doxing, to a major party platform working overtime to de-legitimize the first black President hand in hand with the biggest news channel in America. Are you this naive ? And the fact that our current President was the lead cheerleader of this effort. Should I point out the hundreds and thousands of stories that conservative media and politicians commented about Michelle Obama's looks. Should I point out about the massive systemic effort that conservative states create to disenfranchise minority voters ? Trump and MAGA is this whole movement in steroids. It is part of an overall effort to turn back the clock of progress in America. And you think that is 1/10th of some new story that people will forget in 2 weeks. Are you kidding me ?

So much of what you said is just plain inaccurate. For instance, Trump did not say that Mexican judges are incompetent. A case against him before the election had a Mexican judge presiding over it and he was afraid that the judge wouldn't be objective due to his wall/the perception that he's racist.

That's just one point. Most of the other points you made can be equally refuted or are just ridiculous - "dog whistles," come on. That's code for "they didn't say anything bad but I'm going to interpret bad intentions because I don't like them."

I don't like the guy but I hate the lies and misinformation about him more. Not because they're damaging to Trump but because they're harming our democracy itself.


Unoriginality isn't an response to an argument.

dmode 53 days ago [flagged]

Not a single thing I wrote was inaccurate. From his elevating cases of immigrant crime, to his complete disregard for NFL players peaceful protests, to his calling other countries "shithole", to his pardon of Joe Arpaio, we know who he is and who his supporters are. He is the most dangerous thing to democracy and spread of democratic values in this world and must be handily defeated.


> we know who he is and who his supporters are

I don't think the way forward is to claim half the country is racist. Some of the Trump supporters are, but I feel like it's an easy/unfair explanation for why Trump was elected.

It's been talked to death, but Democrats made a lot of mistakes in 2016, and should look inward to try and fix things before 2020. I feel like the things they are focusing on are just making the division worse, and alienating voters they could win over.

dmode 53 days ago [flagged]

I don't think half the country is racist in the traditional sense. But if a supporter tolerates this behavior because they like something else (e.g., tax cut), doesn't that make him or her a willing participant ?

If the Dems can’t get their shit together and the economy doesn’t tank, we’re in for another four years of Trump.

Dems just flipped 40 seats in the House and 300 in the state legislatures. So there is a strong possibility that Trump will lose. That said, Trump is just a vocal symptom of larger trends in the society. They may be subdued momentarily once Trump is defeated, but they are not going away. He has shown a path forward, and there are others willing to go further. This will be a long fight.

>They didn’t even cover the racist stuff said against the kids.

Do you seriously not understand the point of that statement being made to people wearing MAGA hats? Notice I said understand, not agree with. Because labeling statements that are designed to use the absurdity of the MAGA's hatters position on various topics as a rhetorical tool against themselves as "racist" in order to fabricate some sort of "gotchya" talking point tells me you don't.

>I unsubscribed from the NYTimes over this.

Spare me.

The saddest thing about the news industry dying is how, as it has struggled to stay relevant, it has given up any pretense of being a serious source of information (as opposed to a cheap source of outrage entertainment). Journalism is dead.

>Journalism is dead.

Last I checked the NYT, WaPo, WSJ, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic were all still in print, publishing good reliable content.

For the most part, unfortunately, they run unprofitably, and have required therefor the patronage of high net worth individuals to keep them running.

In an ideal world, there would be a requirement for an organization that labels itself as "journalism", "news", or "reporting" to have a measure of financial independence. ...but as it stands, it seems such independent agencies would not be able to financially sustain itself as so much "news" is free online, and people remain unwilling to pay for less-biased sources of information.

We have entered the disinformation age. If you are not paying for news, you are the product, not the consumer.

Pretty sure titles like "Pewdiepie is a Nazi" is not considered good reliable content.

Good content, sure.

Reliable, not so much.

> Publishing good reliable content.

What is your definition of “good reliable content”?

I find it funny you cite left leaning sources that masquerade as objective. NYT hiring Sarah Jeong and claiming white privilege is rampant. Give me a break.

(This is an unpopular opinion, particularly on HN.)

Is there any qualification to labeling people as "Journalists", or is it entirely a self-appointed title?

The double edged sword of having a smart phone/camera is that everyone can become a “journalist / reporter.”

Are you a journalist because you’re employed by a news organization? How are you any different than someone who writes a personal blog?

I wouldn’t want journalists to go through the hoops that doctors or lawyer needs to go through. In Journalism, like academia, you’ll encounter the problem where you accredite people who agree with you. Think of the rampant left ideology on college campuses, and the voting habits of college professors.

“A poll conducted by Ivy League professors and administrators at liberal arts and social science faculties showed that 84 percent voted for Al Gore in 2000, as opposed to 9 percent for George W. Bush. 57 percent identified themselves as Democrats while only 3 percent identified themselves as Republicans.”

Source: Robert Stacy McCain “Polls Confirm Ivy League Liberal Tilt,” Washington times. 1/15/2002

I suspect this gap has only widened and will continue to do so. (I’d love to see updated stats here.)

I wish journalists would gather some real world experience, defined as working anywhere that is not journalism, before they become “journalists”. I have more respect for these folk and I view them as more credible.

Tying this to buzzfeed, I’d be curious to see the average age and previous emoyment for these “journalists.”

I’d hope they’re not hired fresh out of university where left ideology is popular and pervasive.

Sidenote: Gaining real world experience also applies to these “lifetime academics”, particularly those in non-STEM fields on college campuses. Go experience the world before you criticize it then lay out utopian visions.

We are calling BuzzFeed “journalism” now? If a business model based on “immediacy” means that BF can rationalize publishing false, or at minimum uncorroborated news, then good riddance. Even Woodward and Bernstein didn’t rush to publish the first minute of knowing something could have been askew with Nixon. BuzzFeed posted the uncorroborated Steele dossier when even The NY Times wouldn’t. They said Trump told Cohen to lie to congress when even Muller himself has declared that false. The Cohen story could have been a bombshell, but Buzzfeed couldn’t get anyone on the record, just “two people close to the investigation.” Journalism, real journalism isn’t bombastic publishing of stories with unnamed sources. In the Berstein era, secret sources were used as background, not as the only source.


As far as “tough day on the industry,” perhaps if the industry gave themselves a strong look in the mirror, they’d figure out why. The NY Times is doing pretty well, as is Reuters. It seems that perhaps the youngsters these days are interested more than listicles and might actually care about legitimate news?

The content of the dossier was extremely newsworthy.

Posting it with some false statement about it being the clear truth or whatever would be bad, but it's sort of hilarious to point to the NYT being chickenshit about it as some sort of evidence that Buzzfeed went off the rails by posting it.

> They said Trump told Cohen to lie to congress when even Muller himself has declared that false.

No, Peter Carr said “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate.”

Which is a long, long way from "false".

> Which is a long, long way from "false".

No it isn't.

> "BuzzFeed’s description... are not accurate"

That is literally saying that their reports were false.

> That is literally saying that their reports were false.

Then why didn't he say "false"? Why did he choose the specific "not accurate"?

It is absolutely shameful that this comment was downvoted. Trump is a big boy, he can take it. I couldn't care less.

What of the thousands whose lives are destroyed by shoddy journalism who aren't famous enough to even be recalled? I sincerely hope all of these yellow journalism outfits go out of business. It won't happen, but one can hope.


Trump had the entire establishment, left, right and center, against him, and came out a winner. He still has the entire establishment, left, right, and center, against him. And he's still there fighting.

You can hate the guy--it is establishment policy to do so, after all--but he's a tough son-of-a-bitch. There's no way around that fact.

The man is definitely not in the running for a 'tough son-of-a-bitch.' He has previously circled photos of his hands and sent them to people to prove how big his hands are. He bragged about his penis size at a debate. Just recently it came out that he has people photoshopping his body to make him look better and his fingers to make them longer. He has thrown many a tantrum when faced with reality and has cabinet meetings where people go around the room and praise him. None of these screams thick skin or toughness.

I'm curious what 'establishment' means to you and which part of the 'establishment' and the 'right' you think are still against him. He and the republicans have literally been in control of the entire federal government for 2 years up until a couple of weeks ago and it seems that the republicans are completely behind him.

Tough in the sense that he wears the armor of the U.S. government to protect him. The man will fall very far once those protections run out.

He was so tough that he dodged the Vietnam war because of bone spurs. He is weak sauce

He's cowardly, but I think people mean tough in the sense that he does what he wants.

Trump is not tough at all. He has an extremely fragile ego. This is incredibly obvious to anyone who is paying even the tiniest bit of attention.

The only reason he has lasted all this time is because he's wealthy, and that's mostly because he inherited a couple of hundred million dollars from his father.

I wouldn't classify someone who has had six bankruptcies as a "winner". One, maybe two I can understand. But six, that's just poor business management and a great example as to why we're heading into a Trump-powered recession.


Well your classifiers aren't looking at the distribution then. 6 out of a few dozen isn't bad, that's where I'd like to be.

He's currently president of the United States. Do people think this is somehow easy to accomplish now?

Regardless of how you feel about him, attaining this office does mean a certain amount of competence.

> Do people think this is somehow easy to accomplish now?

That depends - how much external help am I allowed?

Getting support to achieve your goals is how you achieve your goals and requires the same competence. This isn't a lottery.

Does it have to be legal and ethical?

I suppose that was the implicit meaning I should have made explicit in my question.

Do you have evidence of specific competence at something?

He's a billionaire real estate magnate, who had a very successful television show, and became the President of the United States despite extreme opposition from both major parties and the media.

It's obvious from your other comments that you viscerally hate this man, it might good for you to see things with a bit more objectivity.

Until he releases his tax records, we do not know if he is a "billionaire". Hopefully, they'll be released soon.

running for president?

Unfortunately the Russian interference in the US elections & 5 of the campaign officials convicted of various election-related crimes doesn't make it look like the President had a competent, ethical and legal campaign.

Not sure if all of these downvoted comments are just spamming "liburl media" right-wing talking points like is pretty much the norm now for anything critical of Trump, or just out of ignorance, but Buzzfeed was nominated for a Pulitzer on it's Russia reporting and has many award winning reporters on staff.



Top articles of the moment: > Can You Recognize These Rectangular-Ish U.S. States? > 31 Ways To Make Traveling So Much Less Stressful > People Are Sharing The Nicest Thing A Stranger Has Done For Them, And It's Exactly What You Need Today

I mean, I'm sure they do also sometimes produce journalistic content, and it might be of great quality when they do.

As already pointed out a dozen times in these comments, buzzfeednews.com and buzzfeed.com are distinct.

Well, the news was about "BuzzFeed" in general, but fair enough.

Buzzfeed News current top articles:

Why Bryan Singer’s Latest Scandal May Not Affect Rami Malek’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” Oscar Campaign

This Photographer Captures The Emotional Final Moments Between Pets And Their Owners

Climate Change Is A Top Priority For The New Crop Of Governors — Even One Republican

A Man Allegedly Harassed Parkland Victims' Families On Instagram By Posing As The Shooter

A Woman Mistakenly Showed Up For Her Interview With Microsoft A Month Early. Her Hilarious Exchange With The Company Has Gone Viral.

Buzzfeed != Buzzfeed news

Here are some examples from buzzfeed news:



I think Buzzfeed news should rebrand itself so people stop getting the two confused

> They said Trump told Cohen to lie to congress when even Muller himself has declared that false.

The SCO's statement was _much_ narrower in scope than that.

The dossier has been almost entirely corroborated across the board. No parts of it have been proven incorrect so far. Do you have any evidence that any parts of it have been shot down as not factual?

Calling it the 'uncorroborated Steele dossier' is a talking point that has been proven to be a lie over and over. It seems that Buzzfeed New's publishing about the dossier is literally the type of 'real journalism' and 'legitimate news' that you're talking about because it has led to multiple investigations of some of the most influential people in the United States and has led to multiple indictments and guilty pleas, including the former National Security Advisor to the President of the United States. I haven't seen many '10 surprise diet secrets' articles doing the same. Have you?

Reading comments like this makes me honestly entertain simulation theory. We have to be living in completely different realities, where what you’ve read and what I’ve read literally have different words on the page.

> almost entirely corroborated

Have any of the guilty pleas corresponded to a specific claim from Steele? My understanding is, few if any. For what remains of "almost entirely" the whole dossier, "corroborated" in your book seems to mean "not worth bringing before a court of law, even after 2+ years of highly empowered investigation".

> No parts of it have been proven incorrect so far. Do you have any evidence that any parts of it have been shot down as not factual?

Russell has got an orbiting teacup to sell you.

Even Mother Jones would call it mostly uncorroborated.


What source are you using to get "almost entirely corroborated"?

Mic went out of business last year, as well. Seems like an industry thing.

Yeah, it's those that "pivoted to video". Mic was impacted, Univision struggled with Fusion, BuzzFeed walked it back, Verzion is obviously bailing on it, etc.

Wait so that means we're seeing another paradigm shift back to text? That'd be cool.

don't forget everyone pivoted to video after facebook told them it was the future.

does it mean another paradigm shift (into what?) or just the recession/bust starts to show itself?

Verizon is a journalism company?

> With brands like Yahoo, HuffPost and TechCrunch, Verizon Media transforms how people stay informed and entertained, communicate and transact.

[0] - https://www.verizonmedia.com/

From the article: "Verizon Media Group, the portfolio of media brands that includes Yahoo, AOL and The Huffington Post"

Verizon is the parent of Oath (and therefore owns TechCrunch)

Oath is now called Verizon Media

Buzzfeed is?

They were finalists for the 2017 and 2018 Pulitzer prizes, so the answer's a pretty clear "yes".

Wasn't Pulitzer the creator of yellow journalism?


Frankly, the pulizter, oscar or any of these prizes are meaningless to me since it is apparent that they are part advertisements and part agenda pushing and any objective measure of achievement. But everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

If the most prestigious award in journalism doesn't count for anything, you could always read up on how they formed their investigative arm (which includes links to some pretty solid journalism): https://www.poynter.org/tech-tools/2016/how-buzzfeed-built-a...

Or you can just go "nuh uh". ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

They gave money to a disgruntled Guardian employee, so widely disliked employees voted against her promotion to editor, who then took her team with her?

They're a media company at the very least.

They own Huffington Post and TechCrunch.

Tricky answer.


Why doesn’t buzzfeed split the brand between buzzfeed and buzzfeed news. Clearly, as evidenced by these comments here, buzzfeed is doing massive damage to the reputation of the news section; and I highly doubt the target market of the non news section is there because of their competent news half.

Clearly, as evidenced by these comments here, buzzfeed is doing massive damage to the reputation of the news section

A few days ago, an independent journalist I like cited Buzzfeed News as an organization with some good journalists in it. I was very surprised, because BuzzFeed strikes me as a garbage site that doesn't care if it's destroying the public discourse with outrage bait.

From my perspective, BuzzFeed clearly did massive damage to the reputation of BuzzFeed News.

Then you're misinformed. BuzzFeed does plenty of clickbaity quiz things, but it doesn't traffic in outrage last time I checked. And the news division is Pulitzer nominated.

> news division is Pulitzer nominated

that's a load of bull crap. Being "Pulitzer nominated" does not make you good. As someone pointed out in the same thread, Dar Speigel journalist faked everything and got a ton of awards for his reporting. Do you think he works for next, would mention that he is fake news and not the awards - i bet it would be the opposite.

One of Buzzfeed biggest blunders about the Muller Investigation made every news source that cited it look like "fake news" this month. All done for sensationalizing and made the article more clickbaity.

I think that’s his point. The branding is causing the average person to be misinformed. I think most will agree that “Buzzfeed” is trash but “Buzzfeed News” is not. The confusion is understandable. Adding a word to a branding doesn’t usually suggest a complete opposite approach.

Let’s try a few examples to see how understandable it is: “Cracked News”, “Walmart Luxury”, “College Humor University”.

Let’s try a few examples to see how understandable it is: “Cracked News”, “Walmart Luxury”, “College Humor University”

Trump University.

Sample size of only 1 here, but the effect of a 2nd word added to increase legitimacy seems to have a negligible effect on the preceding word. If anything, the compound name seems to have less legitimacy. (This is probably a data outlier.)

BuzzFeed does plenty of clickbaity quiz things, but it doesn't traffic in outrage last time I checked.

I have a different evaluation of BuzzFeed's output, though I only become aware of the worst things that get some outrage. There is an undercurrent of identity politics. One shouldn't criticize and vilify entire groups on the basis of indelible characteristics. One shouldn't forward a narrative of certain groups, defined by indelible characteristics, inherently having bad behaviors. BuzzFeed has done this.

and BuzzFeed News hasn't exactly helped itself lately

> I was very surprised, because BuzzFeed strikes me as a garbage site that doesn't care if it's destroying the public discourse with outrage bait.

That’s because the person in question was a) speaking through a tribalistic ideological lense, not some sober view of the quality of their work and the complete picture of their output (is not a few talented ones who pop up once in a while in a sea replete with endless garbage and questionable editorial ethics) or b) doesn’t really follow Buzzfeed very closely and may only come across the occasional good thing that comes out in the minority of cases (and there no doubt are some good stuff that comes out of it)

I dunno, I feel like people who make this comment are talking about some mythical person who pays enough attention to get the buzzfeed report, yet who isn't paying enough attention to know that buzzfeed news is a thing.

like "Well _I_ know the difference but the random person does not and gets confused!"

These sort of circular meta-discussions in our politics get us so far from the reality that it makes it hard to know what people actually think

I think you underestimate how long impressions last. I think of BuzzFeed as that crappy lists site. Because that's what they were. I have no idea when they got a competent news division or if that's bs being spread in this thread

I have been following Buzzfeed for years (the Try Guys, Quinta B., Ashley, Buzzfeed Australia etc.) and I had no idea that Buzzfeed had a "serious news" arm until reading this HN thread.

Until 10 minutes ago, I had the impression that the news section was just clickbaity stuff like "10 things that blah blah blah... number 6 will leave you speechless", now I just learned that they were considered for a Pulitzer.

I guess my point is that when Buzzfeed News publishes "Trump ordered Cohen to lie", a person consuming this article isn't going to be "oh this is Buzzfeed so it's just some joke".

They might expect the reporting to be done in a silly manner (see splinter news), but I don't think that the credibility hit would be more than if it were some other website. The credibility line is basically "newspaper" and "everything else".

Yes that's interesting,

> The credibility line is basically "newspaper" and "everything else".

Yes that's pretty much how it works in my head. I realise that I tend give more credibility to anything that can be bought, printed on paper, at a newsagency[1], regardless if it's a daily newspaper or a weekly/monthly magazine. I am 40 by the way, it would be interesting to hear what younger people think, since they had way less exposure to traditional print news.

[1]the place where they sell newspapers, outside of Australia it's not called newsagency but I can't remember the correct term and a quick web search didn't help, sorry for that

You can't have been following it very closely then, so ¯\(°_o)/¯

I don't know what's your definition of "closely", but for a while I was watching most new videos they would put out. I guess it comes down to Buzzfeed using a lot of social media channels (YouTube, Facebook etc.) which is not a good thing in terms of discoverability of the other things they do (e.g. news). Basically I would follow the YT channels or the FB pages and rarely if ever visit their website.

Edit: not sure why you're being downvoted since yours was a legitimate objection

as evidenced by these comments here

HN comments are probably poor evidence on which to base corporate or branding strategy.

Every time (n = ~20) I've told a new person about a well researched BuzzfeedNews article, I got essentially laughed at.

Well, I don't know how good of a focus group the 20-odd people you've told about Buzzfeed News are. I do know that every HN thread on the topic of journalism attracts a lot of HN users who have very strong, highly unsubstantiated views about it.

Certainly, but you'll find the same pattern with any audience. Buzzfeed is a relatively recognizable name, and almost no one knows that it has a semi-serious news version.

Go to reddit, go to any other forum, go to anywhere on the internet where people discuss other websites, and you will find the same sentiment regarding buzzfeed. Buzzfeed even gets poked fun of in Bojack Horseman, although not by direct name. For a while it was like a meme how low effort their listacles were, and it will probably take a new name to divorce that image from the branding.

I'm not sure what that would demonstrate. I can go check youtube comments as well, they still wouldn't be a good way to assess the branding strategy of a news org.

remember the famous "why would one ever need dropbox?", meanwhile my mom has trouble figuring out importing contacts in her Galaxy S8.

Based on recent events, it looks like buzzfeed news doesn’t need any help when it comes to damaging its own reputation.

Huh? Their story was cooroborated by Rudy Giuliani before he clumsily walked it back. Then they proceeded to show documents supporting the claim that Trump had plans to build A Trump Tower in Moscow.

Mueller may have said it wasn’t true but it’s not uncommon for law enforcement to make comments like that about ongoing investigations.

Why is this being downvoted? They publish a false story, corroborated by nobody, and that is supposed to help the reputation? And no, “unnamed sources” aren’t corroboration.

If these stories were about Obama, there’d be a lot more howling, but given it’s Trump, the attitude is that any story that confirms anyone’s bias is fine, regardless of truth. It’s disgusting and has made journalism into a tribal farce.

This is being downvoted (as well as your own comment) is because american culture war between red and blue tribes continues unabated, and Buzzfeed, to quote FDR himself, "may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch". And it sucks to lose someone on your side.

I downvoted it because attacking unnamed sources makes no sense as it is the foundation of modern day journalism. Not everyone is willing to go on the record.

It has nothing to do with tribalism or left/right politics. And everything to do with defending journalism in all its forms.

> modern day journalism

How's that working out for you?

It's being downvoted (along with your comment) because not only is it explicitly against HN guidelines but it's also heavily mischaracterizing journalism and how it's performed. Criticize Buzzfeed all you want, but protecting sources from political retribution is a core foundation of proper journalism and many unnamed sources have taken down large groups and institutions.

I bet those unnamed sources had evidence though.

> american culture war between red and blue tribes continues unabated

Not unabated, but at an accelerated pace. Social media has now been weaponized and we are approaching civil war levels of hostility.

I think it's not an even split. The right is being conditioned to hate the left to a degree that is terrifying. Check out the propaganda that the NRA puts out. It is "Divide and Conquer 101"

The majority of the liberal commentary I register is more puzzlement, sadness, and fear (guns, guns, guns, baby!).

I would love to have dialog across the aisle but it seems impossible now. I can acknowledge plenty of "liberal failures" but that is a one way street.

I don’t know, I see plenty of far left commentary that spews aggression and intolerance.

There's going to be outliers, and there's also the fact that social media is gamed now.

For any of that commentary that is actually genuine, I'd be curious about the context. Intolerance of intolerance is different than intolerance itself. And aggression in what form?

The "far left" is a distinct minority, and tends to be focused on corruption and inequality, not about killing Christians or how white people are ruining this country (save for the topic of the genocide used to clear the way).

This divisiveness is intentionally cultivated both domestically and abroad -- it's been reported that Russia created opposing protests to encourage direct conflict: https://www.texastribune.org/2017/11/01/russian-facebook-pag...

One way street? The left wing has pulled fire alarms on Janice Fiamengo, held tribunal for Lindsay Shepherd for showing a 3 minute Jordan Peterson interview in her class, had Berkeley necessarily spend $600,000 to secure Ben Shapiro's safety to speak at the school after multiple successful deplatformings, had Alex Jones (an idiot) removed from Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, had Sargon of Akkad removed from Patreon, had Bret Weinstein protested out of Evergreen University for standing up against blatant anti-white racism, have increased efforts to add ill-defined "hate" speech legislature, and consistently deny invitations from Dave Rubin, Joe Rogan, Ben Shapiro, et all, to have moderated discourse.

What I've listed is the tip of the iceberg. There are attempts to extinguish any discussion of transgender issues, because a discussion necessarily implies "denial of a trans persons right to exist," a textbook example of catastrophizing. There is an increasing attempt to prevent people to speak on issues related to any gender or race that they themselves don't belong to, due to the lack of "lived experience" (something we used to call subjective, anecdotal, n=1 data). There is increasing social pressure on corporations that the proper response to someone like James Damore making academically backed claims when invited to give feedback is to terminate employment immediately.

You're right about a one way street, but you have the wrong direction. And please don't call the modern left liberals, they are absolutely not liberals in any sense of the word.

> Alex Jones (an idiot) removed from Facebook, YouTube and Twitter

Alex Jones engaged in stochastic terrorism. The lawsuit against him will likely confirm that. Unless perhaps you agree with him that Sandy Hook was a false flag operation and those parents were crisis actors?

Jordan Peterson is a quack but I believe in the right of people to have stupid opinions and express them.

Sorry but I'm going to ignore the "liberals" on campus because I think that is a unique situations and kids are obnoxious on both sides of the aisle. I will agree that they have gone way too far in censoring dialog but I also think that one could make a cogent argument that there is such a thing as "hate speech" that at a certain degree does not deserve a platform (the problem is qualifying what that degree is).

I was referring to adults when I made my statement. Although now I'll concede that most people have difficulty hearing the other side; I've certainly seen a lot of that on HN when it comes to social issues.

I'm an old school liberal raised to be anti-war, anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-corporate-statehoodism, question authority, blah, blah, blah. I can still point out "gotchas" within all of those that most liberals can be blind to. Because no system is perfect.

I would love to have a civil dialog with you to see if you can see and admit that conservatism has flaws too.

You gave one example that we could debate:

> because a discussion necessarily implies "denial of a trans persons right to exist,"

Would you care to engage?

My experience is different. As a social scientist, I've never seen hatred like leftist hatred. I'm exposed to the academic left, which is seething with hatred and intolerance. As far as the mainstream, non-academic left, boy they sure hate Trump – and anyone who supports him.

And before Trump, leftists already had a pretty intense hatred of Republicans/conservatives, and libertarians to the extent they know about them. America is extremely partisan, and the two major camps tend to strongly dislike each other, sometimes popping out as real hatred. Research shows that conservatives tend to know more about leftist positions than leftists know about conservative positions, so that suggests that leftists may be operating with more emotion and less information.

(And when I use the word "hate", I mean hate as defined in common dictionaries. The left has infamously co-opted the word to refer to any negative appraisal or feeling about a person or group of persons experienced or expressed by a non-lefist. I'm sticking to hate as extreme animus.)

Academia is a small subset of the population, so your sample size there is suspect. As for Trump, I would be happy to summarize the reasons he is not loved by my tribe, to put it mildly.

I can point out my perceived flaws in Obama and Clinton without pause. Do you have any issues with the current President or his policies or administration?

Do you want to talk to this liberal and see if you can "reach across the aisle"?

Oh, I'm not a Trump voter if that's what you meant. I have plenty of issues with Trump, especially his Twitter behavior. I like some of the bills he's signed, and what he might achieve in opening foreign markets to American exports, esp. China.

They are a serious journalism organisation so you can assume that they did have multiple sources (which they stated they did). And yes unnamed sources are corroboration just as they have been during every major news story that has ever broken.

And pretty sure journalism started to become a tribal force about 20 years ago when Fox News launched. It is the same approach Murdoch took with papers in the UK and here in Australia.

Then again, so did Bloomberg when they claimed that there was some super secret chip on servers sold to Apple/etc that sent data back to China.

> They are a serious journalism organisation

BuzzFeed is? I only ever see them publish silly top-ten lists and click-bait articles.

"BuzzFeed launches a new website for its real journalism": https://techcrunch.com/2018/07/18/buzzfeed-news/

"Buzzfeed News adds a Pulitzer winner and top Pentagon correspondent to its staff": http://www.niemanlab.org/reading/buzzfeed-news-adds-a-pulitz...

Seems like a really bizarre brand to re-use like that. BuzzFeed stands for everything that’s bad and manipulative in journalism in my experience. Like building a restaurant chain reusing your sewage company brand. Why did they do it?

Venture capitalists & NBCUniversal / Comcast have vaporized half a billion dollars on a low-quality click-bait service that is inevitably going bankrupt (or sold for pennies on the dollar of its former valuation). The small group within BuzzFeed that actually produces high quality journalism is the only serious value left in the entire company. That's why they kept it attached to the core brand. If they had separated it off, there's nothing left of the $500 million of VC and no future to the company. The high quality separated off unit would be worth a small fraction of the former BuzzFeed valuation. It'll probably be sold to Comcast for $50m a minute before it goes under.

That Pulitzer winner is Anthony Cormier, the author of the “bombshell” story Mueller said was false. Either the Pulitzeris not all it’s cracked up to be or Buzzfeed selects the worst - likely both.

> Mueller said was false.

I keep seeing people say this but all I've seen is Peter Carr say the Buzzfeed story was "inaccurate". Do you have a source or citation for Mueller saying it was false? Thanks!

edit: (assuming we're talking about the Cohen Congress story)

“Inaccurate” means false. Do you think Mueller would have made has first and only news comment on an article that was essentially correct but had minor errors? Do you think the NYTimes and WashPo are simply ignoring this “bombshell”?

Cognitive mistakes like this are a form of confirmation bias, sometimes called wishful thinking. You want this to be true, right?

> “Inaccurate” means false.

It may well do but we don't know that at the moment. Trump may not have explicitly told Cohen to lie to Congress, for example, but the intent and meaning were clear from his words. Saying "he told him to lie" is then inaccurate but not false. There's a hundred other scenarios where they come out and say "inaccurate" without meaning "false". We won't know until the full report is out.

Literally the reputational concern I’m addressing up top

You really only see this coming from the right / Fox News?

Of course not. It merely started with Fox News.

And Murdoch have been quite upfront in interviews over the last 2 decades that this is what they intended. They firmly established themselves as a right-wing station and pushed everyone else to the left.

It’s not that they didn’t name the source, it’s that they (by their own admission) didn’t corroborate the story. They had an unnamed source who claimed documentary evidence existed, but nobody at buzzfeed saw any of it. Combine that with Buzzfeeds pretty obvious slant on the issue, and Mueller’s refutation of the story, and it comes out looking terrible for Buzzfeed.

> And no, “unnamed sources” aren’t corroboration.

Yes, they are. Unnamed sources have brought down institutions ranging from the Nixon administration to the Boston archdiocese.

You're both right. Unnamed sources have indeed released big stories on multiple occasions and are therefore useful, but citing them definitely discounts an article's reliability, since neither the reader nor any other news sources can seek clarification or verification.

There's already a lot of howling about it. This thread is full of it!

And in any case, it's an unfinished story. BuzzFeed stand by their reporting and have asked the special counsel to clarify exactly what parts they are disputing (they did not say the entire story was false). So a little early to say it's a "false story".

News should contain truth. None of it should be false. If they’re printing things that are not verified to be true, then it’s not news, it’s rumors. The whole story doesn’t need to be false, presenting rumors as fact is enough to be considered poor journalism. They shouldn’t be discounted, but it reflects poorly, and this lay-off could suggest there has been pressure that compromised their integrity.

But they did confirm it... with their sources. How else would you have them confirm it? If the special counsel doesn't respond to requests for verification then do they just... never publish? Sounds like a great way for the guilty to hide stuff.

> never publish?

There's always a risk for stories from indirect sources. If they publish something that's incorrect from these sources, they risk losing some credibility. This is how it should be and always has been with news organizations. I'm not sure what a sane alternative is here.

They didn’t corroborate the testimony. Nobody at buzzfeed has seen the supposed evidence. Buzzfeed isn’t asking us to trust them (which would already be dubious), they’re asking us to trust some unnamed source (and trust it over Mueller’s refutation of the story). That’s tabloid level rumour printing.

BuzzFeed is a great example of how focusing on short-term revenue-maximizing metrics (clicks) at all costs can create irreparable long-term reputation damage - a quiet, hard-to-detect debt that can sink a brand.

BuzzFeed is the strongest example of the new generation of shallow, biased, predictable poli-trash media outlets and this will be impossible to overcome.

I would have said BuzzFeed is a great example of mixing up two sites together such that people who aren't capable of doing any actual research will just conflate the two. We live in a TL;DR headline-only world, so maybe this isn't that ironic.

Id like them to cut 100%, honestly. IDK in english but their spanish version is complete garbage that brings nothing to the table, except clickbaity info and wannabe toxic political analysis, which is nothing more that uber biased confirmation bias feed. And Im not even sure if Im being hyperbolic here.

They cover Australian politics better than most of the "real" news outlets. Would be sad to see that go.

they do? i've never heard of that, i waded into the clickbait but i can't even find their politics section

English website is pure click bait garbage as well.

If that means BuzzfeedNews has to shut down due to lack of money, it's a stupid idea.


Influencers on any social platform rate highly on the disgusting meter as well. Even more so after recently watching the Fyre documentaries.

It's weird people are defending Buzzfeed here. As a long time lurker, it seemed like the community here is for fact reporting and truth seeking. Buzzfeed has had at least two major blow ups in the past year. Perhaps two of the biggest blunders in years. On top of that, they have constantly reported things without all the facts causing major damage to innocent people.

To all the people who keep saying 'Pulitzer prize'.


Not using the above to discredit the award or all people who have the award. But as recently seen with Der Spiegel, an award doesn't automatically give you immunity from criticism nor does it prove credibility. There are some awards and tests in life demonstrate objective truth, journalism has neither.

It's even odder to see people make the defence "Well, BuzzFeed News isn't BuzzFeed, and people are silly to mistake them".

No, people aren't silly to mistake them. They're part of the same company, they share a brand, it's perfectly natural that people would associate one with the other.

If The New Yorker started a division called New Yorker Feed that did nothing but published stolen content from Twitter and reddit in such a way as to make teenagers neurotic about nothing and feel no self worth, nobody's going to say "Well, you shouldn't confuse The New Yorker Feed with The New Yorker, they're totally different", ditto any other respected publication house.

By the same token, FOX News having one hour of thoughtful, unbiased, unopinionated news that represents the two mains sides of the American political spectrum thoughtfully, equally, and respectfully doesn't make up for the other 23 hours of a day.

I don't care about BuzzFeed or BuzzFeed News one way or the other, but let's give the people who confuse the services a break.

Or to put it another way: if BuzzFeed News were the original company, and some outfit decided to call themselves BuzzFeed and pulled the kind of crap that BuzzFeed pulls, BFN would send the quickest cease and desist ever lawyered.

While I'm not happy to see people lose their jobs, I hope this and other recent events signal a waning of amateur "disruptive" journalism.

I've been transitioning back to traditional media — physical newspapers, DVRing the evening news, NPR, etc... and only visiting online news sites and Facebook one day a week.

I'm not sad that I'm not bombarded with a constant stream of clickbait stories and headlines that don't reflect the content of the article. Buzzfeed is the poster child for all that is wrong with "new media." If it goes the way of the newspapers it killed, I won't cry.

I feel mentally healthier, less anxious, better informed, and I sleep better. YMWV, but I encourage people to try to do the same to see if it works out for them. If not, there's still plenty of web sites out there peddling "free" news in exchange for peace of mind.

I've wanted to switch to magazines for my news for a while now but haven't found a specific one that I love yet. Any recommendations?

I really like the Economist. It doesn't cover all of the news but does a good job providing analysis of what they do cover.

I like to combine The Economist and Jacobin for politics and economics.

Foreign Affairs + Mother Jones is another combination.

Same with The New Yorker + In These Times.

The Atlantic has a reputation for thoughtful, prescient journalism -- often with a focus on technology, but more often its surprising intersections with the world at large. I think it's frequently regarded as artsy and literary, like a New Yorker with pictures, which is odd considering its most famous essay, "As We May Think" by Vannevar Bush (1942), is widely credited with laying the foundations of the Information Age.

I wonder if Time will make a comeback with Benioff's purchase.

Another example of bad Pulitzer : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Duranty#The_Pulitzer_Pr...

Walter Duranty was misreporting on Holodomor for the New York Times and still won a Pulitzer prize which has not been returned or revoked

Most people in the west have no idea the holodomor genocide of millions by the Bolsheviks (much of whose leadership and financing was from New York) ever occurred. His downplaying of it is doubtless partly responsible.

What happened with Der Spiegel?

From the horse's mouth: http://m.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/claas-relotius-r...

An investigative journalist was found to have fabricated large parts of his reportage over years of work for the paper.

Laugh.... reading the comments, I feel like the guy in the star wars trench run that needs to keep saying "stay on target"....

The real problem here is business model: expected average revenue per content piece vs. expected cost of production.

There's a winner-take-most dynamic in publishing revenue and audience development; top X stories get Y% of total revenue (with a huge power law effect). If you don't win top 5, you probably get almost nothing.

The cost of a newsroom scales linearly with articles; very hard to get productivity as you drive scale. Your odds of finding good topics drops according to a power law.

Very hard to drive pageviews of additional content with a digital audience vs. print... print would pick up the paper and read an extra couple of pages, since they already have paid for the headline article. Most digital visitors clicks out after a page.

Most of the sensationalism and wading into politics / drama is an effort to stretch that business model... find content which is stickier than objective reporting. The advertising model really does drive editorial strategy:

- In traditional print, I need to build a publication brand to drive subscriptions => subscriber revenue & ad pageviews. Generally points to credibility-building as the best strategy.

- In free digital, emotional crazy talk actually does better than responsible journalism...

"In response to the statement tonight from the Special Counsel's spokesman: We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he's disputing." -- BuzzFeed News Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith

Any chance that Smith, Leopold, or Cormier are in the 15%?

Even if they were fired, another company would pick them up.

The news industry reminds me of the catholic church with the news companies acting like the catholic dioceses. Instead of banishing "bad journalists", the news industry just shifts them from company to company like the catholic church moves around "bad priests" from diocese to diocese. It still amazes me that any "news" company would hire Leopold after his previous gaffs. I guess as long as they keep to the "faith", nothing can't be forgiven and they'll always have a job in the industry.

This seems a bit overblown. Lots of people still believe that priests have a role to play in society other than molesting children. In contrast, does anyone really believe that the media has a purpose other than afflicting politicians who are skeptical about some wars?


What a nasty comment section. I'm not the target audience for Buzzfeed myself, but instead of crowing over people losing their jobs I just don't click their articles.

Sorry to the people who lost their jobs, but I do not think that Buzzfeed has a good product.

Crikey, the comments here...

I have family who simply cannot believe in trusted relationships like journalistic integrity (news reporting), or fiduciary responsibility (finance),

And yet there are thousands of people working every day, to keep their internet connections, photo and email services operational, minute by minute.

It seems to me that none of us have a clear idea of the relationships of trust we believe in, or ignore, or deny, just to get through a normal day.

Part of the huge effect power from all the social media propaganda was how people view this junk as legitimate when it was posted by a friend or family vs. a cold monolithic organization filled with, in Sarah Palin's infamous words, "the liberal media elite."

I bet people would walk right past a headline in a tabloid at the grocery store, knowing its BS, but would repost the same exact story if Aunt Karen shared it on facebook.

I propose a work force cut of 100% after spinning off BuzzFeed News under an untainted name.

BuzzFeed employs ~1600 people? Maybe it's my ignorance on content companies, but that seems excessive for what they produce. Is there someone that can provide a bit of a breakdown of jobs so I'm more informed?

That's what's stunning to me. There are youtubers shooting videos from their kitchen or bedroom for approximately zero dollars who have larger audiences than these "mainstream" publications. I don't understand how they can still exist with 1600 people in their employ. Furthermore I don't understand what those 1600 people actually do other than make shit up and repost other, more legitimate news sources.

Investors ploughed a combined $400 million into them across 2015 and 2016.

1,600 employees in that segment probably cost ~$120m per year in salary and benefits, give or take $20m. (their employee count was higher than 1,600 for a time though)

They likely have burned through a lot of that $400m in the last 40 months. TechCrunch reports they had just over 300 employees in mid to late 2013. So they increased headcount more than 5x in 3-4 years (another article reports they were up over 1,700 employees sometime in 2017).

BuzzFeed News staff were finalists for the Pulitzer in both 2017 and 2018. What makes you think they "make shit up and repost other, more legitimate news sources"?

Do you work for Buzzfeed by any chance or have some financial interest in it? Because otherwise I don't see how you could in good faith defend this wretched hive of scum and villainy. I mean just go to their website. Do you seriously call them a proper, trustworthy news source?

I don't work for them, nor do I have a financial interest in them. What I do have is a personal interest in the continued existence of the only journalism outfit that's actually managed to earn a recurring subscription¹ from me due to the quality of their articles.

> I mean just go to their website. Do you seriously call them a proper, trustworthy news source?

What's wrong with https://www.buzzfeednews.com/? It looks perfectly fine to me.

¹Also in their favor is the fact that BuzzFeed News doesn't have any sort of paywall. The only benefit I get from a subscription is knowing that I'm helping to support good journalism.

Let's start with the fact that there's a fake news story in the upper left corner debunked by Special Counsel Mueller's staff a few days ago. :-)

No it wasn't. They said it "wasn't accurate" but declined to specify. Most people seem to think this means there are inaccuracies to the story, but the overall thrust of the piece is still true.

How about another one: the "pee pee" dossier which was also released by Buzzfeed. Do "most people" still "seem to think" it's true or has it been discredited enough by now?

The dossier which BuzzFeed did not create themselves? I largely skipped news coverage of this besides vaguely knowing of its existence, but AIUI BuzzFeed's rationale is that it was newsworthy (being as it was a document that was circulating at the highest levels of the US government and media).

Incidentally, it seems that at least parts of the dossier have now been corroborated, and nothing has been disproven. There's still large parts of it that are in question of course, but I fail to see how it's been "discredited", it's merely been criticized.

Feel free to argue that BuzzFeed was incorrect in releasing a dossier full of raw intelligence before it had been corroborated. That's certainly something one can argue, and many people would agree (but not everybody). But that's not the argument you're making.

I'm old enough to remember the olden days where the onus was on the news outlet to do some basic fact checking and corroboration _before_ publishing stuff.

BuzzFeed was explicit when they published the dossier that it was raw and uncorroborated. They didn't claims its contents to be true, or base other assertions on it. They made the raw document itself available for public download.

At the time, the dossier was disseminating through government and media circles, and being referred to in a lot of news and commentary, but the public had no access to it. The point of making the document available was to pull the curtain on that kind of NY/DC politics/media insiderism.

They're defiintely administration and engineering heavy. It's a media company, so they should have budgets for reporters and actual reporting. Have one editor, get rid of all the engineers and put them on a contractual basis and then all reporters.

>Have one editor And publish only 4 things a day at that rate. More editors = more edits per day = more publications per week = more eyes on ads.

They cover a wide array of geographic regions.

sure. Maybe it's impossible to operate so thinly on admin and engineering. But it'd be a really revolutionary way to operate a news organization: put it towards the people who gather news and budget appropriately for it. The listicles and reaggregations they've popularized have been the worst things about modern journalism.

This is terrible news for journalists and others affected by this action.

I sincerely hope BuzzFeed News lives on and the rest of the business model of repackaging content found on social media and reddit goes into the dustbin.

They made a business of posting photos/jokes/memes without attribution and burned a lot of bridges. This is saying nothing about the quality of listicles and other content. As much as I detested the non-news part, I'm sure it was a click draw.

I'm not optimistic of BuzzFeed News continuing without the rest of the garbage on buzzfeed.com.

It's a shame that such an important news source is not doing better. In this day and age, we NEED a website like this to bring us valuable information and help us navigate through all the noise and useless distractions out there. I mean just take a look at their front page today: "21 Secrets Wegmans Employees Would Never Tell You, But I Will". Who else would tell me if not Buzzfeed??

You can criticize BuzzFeed News, but you should at least look at BuzzFeed News' actual homepage, and not their sister site, when doing so:


While I don't disagree with any of it, maybe the Hate has gone too far in this thread, so I won't pile on. It is tempting though :p haha.

I don't pay for WSJ, so I could only read 1st 2 paragraphs. It says they want to invest more in the more 'promising' areas of content licensing & e-commerce? What the hell does that mean in this context? Are the going to try to sell their articles to other smaller sites to publish? Not sure what products they sell, so how is e-commerce involved? Selling products for advertisers?

And I also have a question for minimaxir who said he/she is a BuzzFeed employee. What does a data scientist do at a company like that? What kind of data are you crunching and hiw does it affect the companies descisions? Maybe this isn't information you can share publicly? But I'm interested in data science so I'm curious. Maybe you have some insight on what's happening?

> What does a data scientist do at a company like that?

BuzzFeed publishes a few things about that on the tech blog: https://tech.buzzfeed.com/

For example, a few NLP tasks such as identifying trending topics (https://tech.buzzfeed.com/identifying-trending-topics-for-bu...) and topic clustering (https://tech.buzzfeed.com/how-we-tagged-14-000-buzzfeed-quiz...).

I haven't written any posts for the blog (due to time), but I do want to write posts there soon :)

Anything beyond what's there I can't disclose publicly.

Cool, thanks for the articles, I'll check them out. I'm interested in learning more about data science, maybe pursing it in the future if I get ever get tired of web development.

> I don't pay for WSJ, so I could only read 1st 2 paragraphs.

I'm not arguing you SHOULD pay -- I don't -- but found this unintentionally hilarious in a thread about all the layoffs recently in the online news business.

But more seriously, Google and Facebook take so much of the ad revenue it's not surprising to see so many unable to prosper.

Heh, it is kind of funny now that I think about it.

I know nothing about advertising, I wonder why that's the case? Is it just about the sheer amount of volume FB/Google control? Are they in the position to be able to charge higher prices?

I mean, I'd imagine BuzzFeed racks up a huge amount of exposures/ click-thrus. But I guess the big guys just control such a huge % of people's time share on the net it can't compare.

I’d imagine their target audience is relatively broke.

> he/she

BTW "they" has been used as a third-person singular gender-neutral pronoun for over a century, and it's superior to "he/she" not only in ergonomics but also because "he/she" doesn't work for nonbinary people whereas "they" works for everyone.

Good. Their site is trash.

Sure, they do _some_ news well, but it's a tiny part of a much wider, broken system.

My list so far: Apple, Tesla, Buzzfeed, Verizon/Yahoo/CNBC, HuffPost, SpaceX

Doesn't look like the layoffs will be ending soon either. If it was just one or two that would be one thing, but this is forming a pattern. What do all these companies know?

I keep hearing word of a potential recession or downturn. Is anybody here more keyed in than myself and can provide an explanation?

The content creation for ads business is dead.

This is verifiably untrue.

Maybe it's more like a zombie. Largely, there is no longer a moral creature with agency left inside. What's left is just a ravenous bundle of crude instincts shambling towards the next clickbait.

Journalism for ads business is dead

Plenty of websites still make a killing creating content for ads. Just that the content is garbage and written by lowly paid "bloggers", not degree-holding journalists

What do you think the article means by "shifting digital-media landscape"?

I've been thinking about this a lot. There are a lot of interesting developments happening right now.

I think Buzzfeed News needs to rebrand itself from Buzzfeed so people stop getting the two confused

This is news itself to me. If they're actually two separate organizations, are they really operating independently? If they rebranded, I'll eventually find out and find it suspicious they changed names.

Is buzzfeed journalism?

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18984823 and marked it off-topic.

Buzzfeed has both a click-baity division and Buzzfeed News, which has been breaking important investigative stories for the past several years.

Right now, corporate tech values the click bait, not actual news organizations that fact check themselves and do actual investigation.

No snark intended but the bar is honestly pretty low these days.

You must be mixing Buzzfeed and Buzzfeed News. The former is low tier content that funds the actual investigative journalism in the latter.

I was actually referring to the journalism bar but Buzzfeed News doesn’t do anything to refute my point, as far as I can tell.

BuzzFeed News (Emily Dugan) have scooped some important stories about the justice system in the UK recently. That's the clearest example of great journalism from BuzzFeed News.

Buzzfeed News certainly is, yes.

They've been doing some of the best political reporting in the industry for the past several years

"250 People We're Letting Go"

Number 33 really shocked me

"How we cut payroll expenses 15% using this one weird trick"


Disclosure: I work at BuzzFeed

If you are curious how BuzzFeed's business model works (specifically, the diversification of revenue sources), see this post by BuzzFeed's CEO a year ago: https://www.buzzfeed.com/jonah/9-boxes

That post leads in with:

> The media is in crisis. Google and Facebook are taking the vast majority of ad revenue, and paying content creators far too little for the value they deliver to users.

Buzzfeed had & still has next to zero original content creators. They have content re-packagers. Take images & thoughts from other websites(reddit/twitter) and puts them in a list.

Take ideas which smaller (& more original) content creators make and re-make it.


You should try actually reading BuzzFeed before making blanket statements like that. BuzzFeed certainly does do a lot of listicles, but that's only a portion of the content they put out. If you want to talk original content, just take a look at the large list of shows they have, such as Tasty, Try Guys, Unsolved, Worth It, etc. And that's not even considering BuzzFeed News, which seems to be putting out some of the best journalism of all the domestic outfits recently.

Even the "content repackaging" is still work. What you're deriding here is a form of curation. Personally, I quite enjoy their roundups of the latest funny stuff from Twitter and Tumblr. And some of these listicles are in fact original content rather than merely "repackaged" content.

If you don't like the fluff "repackaged content", that's perfectly fine. Don't read it. But don't mistake the existence of this for a lack of original content. BuzzFeed puts out that "repackaged content" because it's popular and drives eyeballs for advertising. If that's what they have to do to fund BuzzFeed News, I say more power to them.

It's ironic you'd mention Tasty as a counterexample to them repackaging content. Kenji Lopez-Alt called them out for stealing recipes:


> BuzzFeed certainly does do a lot of listicles

Don't forget they diversified into psuedo-science quizzes as well.

> What you're deriding here is a form of curation

Repackaging content is not curation by any stretch of the word.

> If that's what they have to do to fund BuzzFeed News, I say more power to them.

I don't agree that this is a case where the ends justify the means.

I wasn't aware BuzzFeed portrayed their quizzes as scientific in any sense.

> Repackaging content is not curation by any stretch of the word.

It is literally the definition of curation.

> I don't agree that this is a case where the ends justify the means.

The means of... putting out content that you personally don't enjoy but other people do? Why does 100% of BuzzFeed's content have to be relevant to you in order to justify its existence?

> such as Tasty, Try Guys

They, and others, have left BuzzFeed.

tasty.co's footer says "A BuzzFeed Brand". BuzzFeed Video's Shows list still lists Try Guys.

Sorry, I just meant Try Guys. I should have put a [...] in place of Tasty. Here's the Try Guys' video "Why We Started Our Own Company": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyhAz4-l0Wg

Videos about leaving BuzzFeed are a bit of a meme, mostly complaining about long work hours to churn out low-quality content.

Huh, I'm kind of sad that they left BuzzFeed, because it means I'm not going to run across any of their new videos while skimming through the BuzzFeed AppleTV app.

In any case, the fact that Try Guys was popular enough that they felt they could leave BuzzFeed and make it on their own only strengthens the argument that BuzzFeed is putting out good original content.

They're also warning of quickly re-written stories with sensationalistic spin, shady off-shore content farms, algorithmically generated content, and pirated videos.

Funnily enough that's exactly their business model.

That was published in mid-December 2017. Was there an update in mid-December 2018? If so, was it less optimistic about the profits of the news division?


I know you're trying to be snarky but minimaxir has done a lot of great work with data science and visualization, particularly with his Reddit analysis.

That doesn’t change BuzzFeed. Facebook has some brilliant and decent people working there too.

Well, maybe they finally figured out how to automate clickbait title/article generation.

But I'm sure those 15% will find something more productive to do with their time.

Sorry about the snark.

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