BuzzFeed CEO Tries to Scare Employees Out of Unionizing

J.K. Trotter · 08/14/15 04:58PM

Jonah Peretti, the founder and CEO of BuzzFeed, is a big fan of labor unions—as long as they come nowhere near BuzzFeed. According to BuzzFeed reporter Cora Lewis, Peretti told employees this week that “I don’t think a union is right for BuzzFeed,” citing the fact that BuzzFeed is structured more like a tech startup than a traditional media company and his own belief that unionization would negatively affect the salaries of BuzzFeed’s writers and reporters (in whom the company has invested tens of millions of dollars).

Internal Documents Show BuzzFeed’s Skyrocketing Investment in Editorial

J.K. Trotter · 08/12/15 11:20AM

Late last month, Recode reported that NBCUniversal is preparing to invest $250 million in BuzzFeed, a play that would value the site at $1.5 billion. This newest round of funding (last year, it was merely $50 million from Andreessen Horowitz) raised a still unanswered question: How is BuzzFeed doing financially? According to internal documents obtained by Gawker, the answer is: Good. The company’s revenue tripled from 2012 to 2013, and reached $46 million in the first half of last year. Its investment in editorial has doubled each year. The documents also prove clearly for the first time that BuzzFeed pays millions of dollars to sites like Facebook to boost its clients’ advertising campaigns.

Landing An Interview With Barack Obama Isn't Cool Anymore

Jordan Sargent · 08/12/15 10:25AM

There was a time—say, in January—when getting an interview with President Barack Obama was the biggest fish a budding new media behemoth could reel in. But now we have way too many of those fish.

BuzzFeed Editor Apologizes for Endorsing Gun Control

J.K. Trotter · 07/24/15 11:45AM

Thursday night, BuzzFeed news editor Rachel Zarrell reacted to a deadly shooting at a Louisiana movie theater by tweeting, “Don’t pray. Push for gun control” and “If this were someone in my family I’d want every person alive screaming about gun control to anyone who would listen.” Within an hour, however, Zarrell suddenly reversed course by tweeting an apology of sorts to the conservative activist Stephen Miller:

BuzzFeed’s Support of Women’s Rights Does Not Include Abortion

J.K. Trotter · 07/07/15 10:10AM

In late January, BuzzFeed published a lengthy standards and ethics manual, with which the site intended to hold itself accountable for various missteps (such as surreptitiously deleting articles). Unlike most other news outlets that bother with ethics manuals, however, BuzzFeed decided to specify its stance toward a number of social and political issues: “We firmly believe that for a number of issues, including civil rights, anti-racism, and LGBT equality, there are not two sides.”

Your "Scoop" Doesn't Matter

Sam Stecklow · 05/29/15 12:45PM

On Thursday, at about 4 p.m. Central Standard Time, several news outlets reported that Dennis Hastert, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and Illinois congressman, was indicted for, among other offenses, lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The media entities included BuzzFeed News, the Chicago Sun-Times, and CBS Chicago, all of whom posted their stories within minutes of each other.

When Everything Is Facebook, Facebook Sets the Standards

Tom Scocca · 05/13/15 04:58PM

This is the day that the New York Times, National Geographic, and BuzzFeed, among others, began publishing stories directly to Facebook. The instant-publishing partnership is the newest concession to, or accommodation with, Facebook’s ever-greater dominance of how people encounter and read (or watch) material.

Is BuzzFeed Deleting Its “Real Journalism” Articles, Too?

J.K. Trotter · 05/06/15 10:00AM

In late 2012, the morning after the second presidential debate, BuzzFeed published an article titled “The Debate Romney Won,” which floated the Romney campaign’s theory that the Republican candidate “came out on top — horserace analysis be damned” in the October 16 debate. The piece is mostly notable for the decision of its authors, McKay Coppins and Zeke Miller, to grant anonymity to a Romney aide so he could praise his own boss and trash President Obama as “a weak leader.” It is also notable for the fact that, two days after it was published, the entire post disappeared from BuzzFeed’s website.

Ben Smith and Jonah Peretti: The Gawker Interview

J.K. Trotter · 04/22/15 01:55PM

On April 16, Gawker contacted BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith with evidence that his site had deleted a post criticizing Pepsi, a BuzzFeed advertiser, under pressure from the beverage manufacturer. In response, Smith invited Gawker to interview him and BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti at the company’s New York office. A transcript of the interview, which took place on April 17 and concerns BuzzFeed’s ongoing review of deleted content, can be found below. It has been lightly edited for clarity.

Do You Work at BuzzFeed?

J.K. Trotter · 04/21/15 01:50PM

Do you work at BuzzFeed? Have you worked there in the past? If yes, send us an email. We’re researching several stories about the company, and we’re willing to make it worth your time if you can help us out. Anonymity guaranteed.

BuzzFeed Deleted Posts Under Pressure from Its Own Business Department

J.K. Trotter · 04/18/15 05:00PM

Earlier this week, BuzzFeed launched an internal review of any posts that its editors or writers had deleted from the site since editor-in-chief Ben Smith was hired in January 2012. In an interview on Friday, and a memo sent to staff on Saturday, Smith revealed that the review has already uncovered three instances where complaints from the site’s business and advertising departments led Smith to delete posts.

Who Is Ben Smith Kidding? 

Tom Scocca · 04/10/15 05:20PM

What's amazing about BuzzFeed's perpetual amnesiac/wayward-husband approach to its ethical guidelines (Today is the first day of the rest of our ethics!) is that the person who has to give voice to this ever-evolving set of rationalizations about the trial-and-error nature of developing ethics is the stolidly conventional Ben Smith, who certainly 10 years ago when I shared a newsroom with him, at the New York Observer, showed no signs of not being fully socialized to professional standards. In fact, in that light, his absurd and instantly disprovable messaging about the need to define and restrict BuzzFeed writers' use of personal opinion becomes intelligible—it is meant, consciously or unconsciously, as an appeal to stodgy, ultra-conventional journalistic values. He did not violate basic standards because he is at the helm of a post-moral money-making machine that only impersonates journalism to the extent it helps with its branding, but because he was uncomfortable with this newfangled opinion-slinging.

BuzzFeed Deleted Anti-Hasbro Post After Inking Deal With Hasbro

J.K. Trotter · 04/10/15 02:41PM

Yesterday we reported BuzzFeed’s decision to delete a staff-written post that criticized a viral advertisement for Dove beauty products. In response, BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith released a rather incredible internal memo that instructed the site’s writers not to “advance [their] personal opinion” and claimed that “we’ve never had to pull a post before”—which is true for BuzzFeed Life, perhaps, but not for BuzzFeed as a whole.

BuzzFeed Deletes Post Critical of Dove, a BuzzFeed Advertiser

J.K. Trotter · 04/09/15 03:55PM

Wednesday afternoon, BuzzFeed published a post by staff writer Arabelle Sicardi that openly criticized a bizarre advertising campaign by Dove. (A sample passage: “The soap manufacturer wants to tell us how we feel about ourselves. And then fix it for us. With soap.”) Thursday morning, however, BuzzFeed deleted the entire post and replaced it with a single sentence: “We pulled this post because it is not consistent with the tone of BuzzFeed Life.”