Buzzfeed is Ruining Journalism

Bryanna Ferreira, Staff Writer

New York City’s “social news and entertainment company,” Buzzfeed, took over as the leading independent digital media company worldwide. The Buzzfeed website, along with mobile apps and social media platforms, contains information and entertainment created by writers from around the world.


Reporters working for Buzzfeed write dumbed-down information for a younger audience to comprehend. Articles lack content because they are made up of a few short sentences that simplify complicated ideas and including several pictures, thus providing minimal information for readers. For example, an article raging about Beyonce’s 2017 Grammy’s dress consists of only one full paragraph. A photo separated each sentence of the supposed article.


Universal signs of non-trustworthy journalism sites include excessive ads, grammatical errors,  misspellings, and the use of slang, all of which can be found on Buzzfeed.  


On Buzzfeed’s home page, I found an ad for the television show “Trial and Error,” a promoter for the website. Buzzfeed clearly can not fund their own website the way professional journalism programs do. As if Buzzfeed’s goal is to make themselves seem unprofessional, this ad was located at the top of the page with the headline “WTF?! IS LARRY HENDERSON A MURDERER?”


Buzzfeed news articles rarely display legitimate photos taken by the team themselves. Instead, they are borrowed from Twitter or Instagram accounts. Isn’t it part of a journalist’s job to retrieve photos themselves? The so-called reporters working for Buzzfeed can not possibly have enough knowledge regarding an event if they were not even present to take pictures for their article. Or, like most journalism industries, they should hire phoojournalists to take appropriate photos for articles.


As the Buzzfeed team explains in their blog, they “have a big audacious goal of helping creative people launch and spread their ideas across the web.” Despite the positive effort to allow writers to practice journalism, contributors to Buzzfeed’s news may not have formal journalism training or have degrees in journalism, leading to the publication of unprofessional work.


Clearly, Buzzfeed does not use a successful editing process.  I found a spelling error upon five minutes of browsing articles. In one of the first paragraphs of an article titled “People Are Touched After This Man Paid For An Old Woman’s Groceries When Her Card Was Declined,” Brad Esposito misspelled the word “realizing” by replacing the “z” with an “s.”


In more professional publications such as the Wall Street Journal, readers rarely find spelling errors because each article goes through levels of editing to ensure that the audience will have quality material to read.


Slang language makes writing more eye-catching, so it is no surprise that Buzzfeed uses slang in headlines for articles and in some of the articles themselves. For instance, the very first line of an article written about the famous milkshakes sold at McDoalnd’s says “Shamrock Shake season y’all!” Perhaps this is even an ad disguised as an article.


The Buzzfeed team admits to their priority to entertain the audience. In order to entertain, writers and reporters practice fake journalism. Critics of Buzzfeed often detect false or exaggerated ideas, which misleads readers.


Ken Bensinger recently sparked controversy regarding the accuracy of Buzzfeed with an article titled “These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties To Russia.” Bensinger, clearly a supporter of the democratic party, made an offensive claim that President Donald Trump led a “hotel-room piss party with Russian prostitutes.”


Bensinger provided no evidentiary support for this shocking claim, indicating that he most likely included this rumor in his work in order to provide the audience with something to rave about.


Buzzfeed gears their writing towards a younger audience, such as teenagers and young adults. Therefore, this generation continues to grow accustomed to reading the quick and entertaining articles of websites that can not be trusted. With social media platforms, Buzzfeed articles can become viral within a day.


So what does this mean for official journalism industries such as the New York Times and the Washington Post? Buzzfeed took over as the dominant media base in the world. Just a month ago, the Washington Post celebrated its reach of 890 million viewers. However, Dao Nguyen, Buzzfeed publisher, noted billions of Buzzfeed viewers across the globe.


As a dedicated writer who hopes to enter the journalism world in the future, I face concern with where the journalism industry is heading and whether my dream profession remains safe to pursue.
People now prefer to read short and entertaining articles rather than spending time to explore quality news written by hard-working experts. Buzzfeed is on its way to overtaking all other journalism industries, changing the face of journalism to something far less professional and informational.