BuzzFeed News Is Shutting Down

Ben Smith, writing at Semafor:

My old boss and partner Jonah Peretti announced today that he’s shutting down BuzzFeed News, which we built together starting in 2012.

He wrote to staff that he’d been ​​”slow to accept that the big platforms wouldn’t provide the distribution or financial support required to support premium-free journalism purpose-built for social media.” And he wrote that he could have managed the many business challenges that BuzzFeed has faced better.

The news makes me heartsick.

Peretti hired me in 2012 to build a news organization for the exploding social web. For a few years, we felt the wind of Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest at our backs, and we did journalism that treated those sites as the front page of the new internet. At first, we celebrated and immersed ourselves in an optimistic web culture that imagined a reader who cared about which Disney princess she was, and also the worst of how the American justice system treated abused women, who wanted to argue about the color of the dress and also understand the science behind it. That was back when all of it mixed up in your Facebook feed, and it felt novel.

BuzzFeed News did great work and employed some terrific reporters, but they never had a plan to turn a profit that made any more sense than that of the underwear-collecting gnomes on South Park.

Thursday, 20 April 2023