Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Buzzfeed: Is this the journalism of the new digital age?

Brittany Oblak

When Buzzfeed and its so-called listicles started to heavily circulate on Facebook a few years back, the website was shunned from being seen as "legitimate journalism." It was criticized for not only its "easy read" list articles, but also for its large push of pointless quizzes (predominantly) from its Facebook page, like this one:


Not only were "real" journalists offended by this wannabe news website, but even many every day Internet users were starting to express irritation and lack of interest. People on Facebook wasted no time threatening to delete or "unfriend" those who took the quizzes or re-posted the listicles. Buzzfeed was truly starting to dominate the Facebook News-feeds and Twitter Timelines of people everywhere (myself included) who didn't even indulge in their forms of media. 

However, last year, Buzzfeed jumped into the realm of what professionals would start to acknowledge as "real journalism" by hiring not only editors at every level, but also hundreds of writers, especially young, extremely bright and talented ones. 

They also launched BuzzReads, a site for long-form, editorial content and stories from around the world. They didn't completely rid of their famous lists, instead they went with a more vertical business model and just began to create serious content to go alongside that content that made them famous in the first place. 

Consider the rise of the Huffington Post: it's almost hard to imagine this not being a real news source, but when the publication first launched, it was seen more as a "gossip rag" type deal than anything else. There are still many journalists and news consumers alike who have criticisms about the status of Arianna Huffinton's news giant, but they've still come out on top. As Gandhi said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

That was the path of the Huffington Post, and that seems to be the suit that Buzzfeed is following in. They've spent the past year transitioning into more serious news, like this article about racism in college football. 

We've entered a new age with digital media, and the way content is presented is going to continue to change, because of the new medium. Websites may start out as one thing, as we know Facebook did, and morph into something larger and more significant like Buzzfeed is currently in the process of. Journalism isn't theoretically changing, but the packaging is. 


  1. Hi Brittany!

    I like how you talked about the style of how Buzzfeed presents their various articles. Unfortunately, some people still don't really take Buzzfeed seriously, but I honestly get more of my news from there than anywhere else. Yes, it is fun to browse their site and read things like "37 Things Every Book-Lover Needs" or "12 Gross Habits Everyone Has", but I also feel that they are able to present important news events, such as election coverage, or the recent Paris attacks, in an easily understandable format.

    Kayla Burke

    *had to delete my first comment because I posted before proofreading it!*

  2. Brittany,

    As we have all seen with digital media as well as other aspects in life, whether they be true or not, most people subscribe to the theory that perception is reality. With some surveys saying that the percentage of people that actually believe what they read on some of the media websites as low as 10%, it’s no wonder they are struggling to get the credibility that other media outlets get. Finally, a little bit of colloquialism would be if the dog bites you once, shame on him, if he bites you twice, shame on you!

    T.L. Schilling