I’ll start this post off by first addressing a question my Digital Communications professor asked us after our last class:
Is Buzzfeed journalism?
In my opinion, I think it depends on what you define journalism to be.
In chapter 6 of Jill Walker Rettberg’s Blogging, Rettberg discuses how Journalism is a profession because it is a job that someone gets paid to do. She differentiates it from blogging by saying that bloggers generally blog because they have something that they want to talk about in their own, personal opinion. She continues to say that once someone begins earning a profit for what they say, they have generally been given guidelines to follow and perimeters to stay within that have been created by whatever company they are being paid by.
According to Merriam-Webster.com, Profession is defined as a type of job that requires special education, training, or skill. Going by this definition, blogging could just as easily be considered a profession. The owners of credible and well established blogs are no noobs when it comes to how to write in digital media. Often times these bloggers have been posting for months or years, learning to perfect the way the write. They’ve spent time making connections with other bloggers by commenting on their blogs and linking to their blogs which, in turn, brings a new audience back to their blog when they see the comments and links on other blogs.
Personally, I believe in a hybrid of these two definitions of journalism that should be called “Journalistic Blogging.” I believe that while a person does not necessarily need to be paid to be a Journalist, they do need to have some sort of skill when it comes to presenting the subject as well as a depth knowledge about the subject, or at least enough to be able to answer off-the-cuff questions about it.
For those of you who don’t know, BuzzFeed is a website where just about anyone can post a list, video, group of pictures, story about something in the news or entertainment, and many more exciting article-type things. A group of editors goes through the posts before they are put onto the website. The same group of editors also choses certain articles to feature.
The majority of posts from BuzzFeed that people share, tweet about, and forward to friends are of the entertainment variety. I know that I usually get articles like this or sometimes even this from friends and I won’t deny that they make me laugh. But do they take away from the articles on BuzzFeed that are more serious? This NPR report form December 2013 goes into more detail on that subject.
On BuzzFeed’s website, they have taken the time to describe what they are and what they strive to do.
I think that the words “social news and entertainment company” lead many people to hesitate when calling BuzzFeed a journalistic site, which in some sense is true. Posts that come from the Life or Lists categories seem to be much more inline with what most people associate as blogging; there is nothing dense in the article and if there is anything with an investigative quality, its probably easy enough to “investigate” that the author consulted a peer.
At the same time, if you search for articles under the News or Business categories, you’re much more likely to find articles about current event by authors who are really do know what they’re talking about. All in all, I think that BuzzFeed fits nicely into the Journalistic Blogging category I mentioned earlier.