By closing down its namesake news branch, BuzzFeed is ending a revolutionary era of online journalism. It started as a quirky digital upstart and became a Pulitzer Prize-winning business. However, it finally succumbed to the harsh realities of digital publishing that have brought down many of its competitors.
A journal once viewed as a serious competitor to traditional media sources that needed to be faster to adopt the internet has come to a dismal end. Furthermore, it signalled the end of a digital era supported by startup finance that fundamentally altered media production and consumption.
BuzzFeed News started in 2011, right before that year’s presidential election. It explored entertaining and severe topics in listicles and click-bait-style titles to promote its material on social media. A similar approach was used by its parent firm, an online laboratory Jonah Peretti started in 2006.
However, the news agency immediately became well-known for its ambitious, perceptive reporting and went on to open foreign bureaus and support investigative journalism. The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg News, which it sought to upend, employ many recent grads, and their newsrooms have adopted many of the tactics BuzzFeed pioneered to attract online viewers.
Despite its successes, the news section could not turn a profit because it relied on digital advertising, the vagaries of social media traffic, and the high cost of hiring journalists around the world. In an interview, Ben Smith, the founding editor of BuzzFeed News, expressed his “sadness” at the company’s closure. Smith left BuzzFeed News in 2020 to work as a media columnist for The Times. According to Mr. Peretti, the company’s chief executive, the news division’s closure is part of a larger wave of employment cuts at BuzzFeed.
About 60 of BuzzFeed’s 1,200 employees, some of whom will be offered jobs at other company divisions, will be impacted by the closure of the news division. Additionally, 120 employees from the company’s business, content, technical, and administrative divisions will be let go. The choice represents the most recent in a string of financial failures experienced by digital media organizations. New media companies like BuzzFeed, Vox Media, and Vice still need to live up to their formerly high values while being the focus of great hope and investment from industry titans like the Walt Disney Company and Comcast.
A new generation of media outlets, including BuzzFeed, drew readers to their stories by leveraging the growing influence of online platforms in the hope that financial rewards would follow. BuzzFeed News paid attention to online discussions that many news organizations ignore, interspersed its headlines and boldface language with words that would stop readers’ thumbs in mid-scroll. Eventually, several of BuzzFeed’s traditional media rivals adopted its concern for readers’ habits, with editors concentrating on web dashboards created by companies like Chartbeat and Parse.ly to measure audience behaviour.
The vast audiences their platforms garnered were valuable to the digital giants, such as Meta, Alphabet, and ByteDance, but BuzzFeed News never saw the profits those vast audiences predicted they would. Young consumers are increasingly following digital advertising to internet platforms like Instagram and TikTok, which is a cornerstone for digital media companies.
The demise of BuzzFeed News, according to Rafat Ali, founder and CEO of the online media company Skift, was a clear reminder that news outlets risked going out of business if they didn’t concentrate on finding new revenue streams. Having acquired HuffPost in 2020, another pioneer in digital media, BuzzFeed will continue to produce news there. HuffPost, according to Mr. Peretti’s memo, is lucrative and less reliant on social media sites. Only those aspects of the firm that have proven to be able to boost the company’s bottom line, he continued, were moving forward.