AN ODE TO BUZZFEED: LISTS, ARTICLES AND HAPPINESS

SOPHIE KENNEY

smkenney11@ole.augie.edu
 

talktech

For those of you who frequently scour the internet at all hours, day and night, searching for information on current events, updates on last night’s big game or comic relief via cat pictures, I highly recommend heading over to Buzzfeed, the self-described “Media Company for the Social Age.”

My fellow Buzzfeed addicts and I have been enjoying the site’s quirk and news coverage variety for quite some time. For those of you who are still unfamiliar with Buzzfeed, prepare to find your new obsession.

While Buzzfeed also uses regular article formats, the company’s trademark appeal stems from the multitude of lists that capture the wonderful randomness of the internet at its best.

Proceed with caution, because these lists will provide you hours of distraction from homework or other important tasks that suddenly don’t seem as important when given the opportunity to read “The 18 Most Majestic Mascot Fails On The Internet” or “36 Things You Never Realized Everyone Else Does Too.”

If you still don’t feel the sudden urge to whip out your smartphone and download the Buzzfeed App, fear not. No matter where your interests lie, Buzzfeed will have an appealing list or article.

Primary categories on news, entertainment, life and video are broken into a smorgasbord of subgroups, including anything from fashion to business, “geeky” to animals, and politics to DIY. These, amongst many other subgroups, showcase Buzzfeed’s enjoyable variety for a broad audience.

Buzzfeed’s signature list format and informal tone are the distinctions that set the company apart from The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post or other variety news sources that cover a broad spectrum of material.

After steadily gaining momentum since its launch in 2006, Buzzfeed’s popularity has exploded as of late. The online traffic has tripled within the past year. According to a recent company memo, in August alone 85 million online visitors frequented Buzzfeed.

While the online community frequently labels Buzzfeed’s list/articles as “listicles,” the company rejects the classification.

“We internally frown upon the term ‘listicle,’” staff writer Rega Jha said. “We stick to either list or article, tending to believe that anything attempting to be both is lazy.”

Regardless of the classification, one thing is for certain: it’s working. Jha’s “22 Signs You’ve Found Your Best Friend Forever,” and “27 Decisions That Twentysomethings Are Really Bad At Making” have collected nearly six million views online apiece.

Within the lists and articles, Buzzfeed assumes a different level of formality to reach younger audiences. Chances are you didn’t read The Wall Street Journal’s article “Wall Street’s Pragmatism Getting Tested,” even if you do know the definition of “pragmatism.” You might, however, be more inclined to read about Buzzfeed’s article, “Wall Street To Republicans: Quit Playing Games With The Economy If You Want Our Cash.”

Informality transcends all aspects of Buzzfeed, including the company’s headquarters in Manhattan’s Flatiron District.

“The work environment at Buzzfeed is extremely casual and relaxed,” Jha said.

After working for other conventional magazines like Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, and Vogue, Jha found Buzzfeed to be drastically different in formality.

“There’s such open and relaxed communication between all levels of the hierarchy,” Jha said.

The relaxed communication translates through the writers’ work and sits well with Buzzfeed’s audience, further demonstrating the company’s dedication to younger generations.

“We feel strongly that traditional media has given up on young people and has not made a commitment to telling stories that are interesting for people under 40 or 50 years old,” Buzzfeed president and chief operating officer Jon Steinberg said during an appearance in a recent conference.

Buzzfeed also hopes to make an impact on millennials in a changing age of media.

“Facebook, Twitter, and the other Silicon Valley-based social sites are amazing distribution platforms, but user-generated content alone isn’t enough to fill the hole left by the ongoing decline of print newspapers and magazines,” founder and CEO Jonah Peretti said in a public memo to the Buzzfeed team.

“The world needs sustainable, profitable, vibrant content companies staffed by dedicated professionals; especially content for people that grew up on the web, whose entertainment and news interests are largely neglected by television and newspapers,” Peretti said.

While Buzzfeed’s humorous lists are often their most popular online commodity, the company does not solely rely on fun and games. Buzzfeed has coverage on news that millennials should be informed of, but might not have otherwise taken the time to research. Lists like “The 18 Types Of Annoying Cats You Meet On Instagram,” and Jha’s “23 Symptoms Of Being Hopelessly Addicted To Flamin’ Hot Cheetos” are just an added bonus.

If those list titles have not sparked your desire to run back to your dorm and whip out your laptop, I highly recommend checking Buzzfeed out. Unless you are against adorable sloth GIFs, staying informed on current events and analyses of perfect Snapchat captions, chances are that Buzzfeed’s randomness will encompass one or more of your areas of interest.