Ten ways lists might save journalism… or not


Ah, that’s got your attention. A cat doing something funny on the internet, courtesy of designswan.com

And it’s also the secret of all the buzz around Buzzfeed. Any good news story about the news in the ‘digidil’ era is a good news story, but I still find Buzzfeed a tough one to decipher. Should journalists be happy that one media startup is hiring like crazy to churn out more stories about the 25 most awkward cat sleeping positions? (3.7 million views and counting, but Jonah, that link’s for free).

Still, there are a few worthwhile points to consider in an article on Jonah Peretti by Jessi Hempel of Fortune magazine. One is how digital media ventures are becoming divided over their approach to user-generated content versus inhouse produced content. Buzzfeed is aompany that believes content needs to be produced by skilled writers and editors. That’s a good thing.

Analysing the secret formula that has seen Buzzfeed double in size in no time flat, Hempel writes:

With $27 million in venture funding, he and cofounders John Johnson and media heavyweight Ken Lerer have amassed a click-machine that publishes entertainment, news reporting, and branded content in addictive and sharable packaging. Even to the discerning mind, it can be hard to tell the difference between the three.

Which to my mind goes to the heart of the battle for ‘serious’ longform editorial. Yes, Buzzfeed is a media company that appears to be riding the disrupt, lean mean and pivoting like a digital snapdragon, but at what cost? Short-form bites of curiosity. Whither the long article?


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