Type of site
|Headquarters||New York City, U.S.|
|Key people||Ben Smith (Editor-in-chief)|
BuzzFeed News is an American news website published by BuzzFeed.
BuzzFeed News began as a division of BuzzFeed in December 2011 with the appointment of Ben Smith as editor-in-chief. In 2013, Pulitzer Prize winner Mark Schoofs of ProPublica was hired as head of investigative reporting. By 2016, BuzzFeed had 20 investigative journalists. The British division of BuzzFeed News is headed by Janine Gibson, formerly of The Guardian. Notable coverage includes a 2012 partnership with the BBC on match-fixing in professional tennis, and inequities in the U.S. H-2 guest worker program, reporting of which won a National Magazine Award.
A 2017 study in the journal Journalism which compared news articles by BuzzFeed and The New York Times found that BuzzFeed largely follows established rules of journalism. Both publications predominantly used inverted pyramid news format, and journalists' opinions were absent from the majority of articles of both. Both BuzzFeed and the Times predominately covered government and politics, and predominantly used politicians, government, and law enforcement as sources. In contrast, BuzzFeed devoted more articles to social issues such as protests and LGBT issues, more frequently quoted ordinary people, less frequently covered crime and terrorism, and had fewer articles focusing on negative aspects of an issue.
On January 10, 2017, CNN reported on the existence of classified documents that claimed Russia had compromising personal and financial information about President-elect Donald Trump. Trump and President Barack Obama had both been briefed on the content of the dossier the previous week. CNN did not publish the dossier, or any specific details of the dossier, as they could not be verified. Later the same day, BuzzFeed published a 35-page dossier nearly in-full. BuzzFeed said that the dossier was unverified and "includes some clear errors". The dossier had been read widely by political and media figures in Washington, and previously been sent to multiple journalists who had declined to publish it as unsubstantiated. In response the next day, Trump called the website a "failing pile of garbage" during a news conference. The publication of the dossier was also met with criticism from, among others, CNN reporter Jake Tapper, who called it irresponsible. BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith defended the site's decision to publish the dossier.
BuzzFeed faces at least two lawsuits as a result of publishing the dossier. In February 2017, Aleksej Gubarev, the Russian chief of the technology company XBT, and a figure named in the dossier sued BuzzFeed for defamation. The suit centers on the allegations from the dossier that XBT had been "using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct 'altering operations' against the Democratic Party leadership." In response, BuzzFeed redacted the name of the company and official in its published dossier. In May 2017 Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven, and German Khan - the owners of Alfa Bank - filed a defamation lawsuit against BuzzFeed for publishing the unverified dossier, which alleges financial ties and collusion between Putin, Trump, and the three bank owners. In January 2018, one year after the dossier became public, Trump's lawyer Michael D. Cohen, who is also named in the dossier, filed a defamation lawsuit against BuzzFeed. The same day, Ben Smith again defended the publication in a New York Times op-ed, calling it "undoubtedly real news." In February 2018, BuzzFeed sued the Democratic National Committee to obtain their internal investigation documents regarding the hack of their server during the presidential campaign in order for the journal to better defend itself against Gubarev's lawsuit. In April 2018, Cohen dropped his defamation suit.
An exposé by BuzzFeed published on October 5, 2017 documented how Breitbart News solicited story ideas and copy edits from white supremacists and neo-Nazis, with Milo Yiannopoulos acting as an intermediary. Yiannopoulos and other Breitbart employees developed and marketed the values and tactics of these groups, attempting to make them palatable to a broader audience. In the article, BuzzFeed senior technology reporter Joseph Bernstein wrote that Breitbart actively fed from the "most hate-filled, racist voices of the alt-right" and helped to normalize the American far right.
MSNBC's Chris Hayes called the 8,500-word article "one of the best reported pieces of the year." The Columbia Journalism Review described the story as a scrupulous, months-long project and "the culmination of years of reporting and source-building on a beat that few thought much about until Donald Trump won the presidential election."
On October 29, 2017, BuzzFeed published the original story in which actor Anthony Rapp accused actor Kevin Spacey of making sexual advances toward him at a party in 1986 when Rapp was 14 at the time and Spacey was 26. Subsequently, numerous other men alleged that Spacey had sexually harassed or assaulted them, As a result, Netflix indefinitely suspended production of Spacey's TV series House of Cards, and opted to not release his film Gore on their service, which was in post-production at the time, and Spacey was replaced by Christopher Plummer in Ridley Scott's film All the Money in the World, which was six weeks from release.
BuzzFeed News received a 2016 National Magazine Award in the category of Public Interest. Other awards won by BuzzFeed journalists include a 2014 National Press Foundation award, 2015 Sidney Award, 2017 British Journalism Award, and 2018 George Polk Award. In addition, journalist Chris Hamby was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting.BuzzFeed News is a member of the White House press corps.
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