BuzzFeed launching longform ‘BuzzReads’ section

BuzzFeed’s longform content will now have a place to linger: A new section called “BuzzReads” launches today. “It’s BuzzFeed for people who are afraid of BuzzFeed,” the site’s longform editor, Steve Kandell, told Poynter in a phone call Thursday night.

BuzzFeed hired Kandell to edit its longer stories last November and has been diligently pushing out stories like Natasha Vargas-Cooper’s story about a 10-year-old who shot his white-supremacist father, Amanda Petrusich’s account of a python hunt in Florida and David Peisner’s story about how a 1998 school shooting still affects the town in which it happened.

But those deep dives quickly plunged off BuzzFeed’s homepage because they were pushed out by the site’s hyperactive content machine. Two or three days after one of these carefully researched, lovingly assembled long stories was published, Kandell said, he couldn’t find them without using Google.

“I wouldn’t say it’s frustrating,” Kandell said, but his section “works at a different pace than BuzzFeed does.” The idea of “keeping one of these stories on the homepage for two or three days is sort of crazy.”
BuzzReads will be “a bit quieter than the average BuzzFeed page,” Kandell said, with eight to 10 stories and pictures of varying sizes. The mockup I saw has a logo with a light, serif typeface, emphasizing its kind-of separate identity. He hopes to bring in RSS widgets from other longform sources like Longform, he said, positioning BuzzReads as a good citizen of the longform ecosystem.

Kandell said such a page has been part of the plan all along and that BuzzFeed wanted to wait until it had enough content to stock its shelves. The primary goal of its long pieces, Kandell said, is still that people discover them through sharing and serendipity.

As opposed to years past when people sought out long stories from trusted brands like magazines (Kandell and I have both worked at Spin, though never together), fans of longform journalism have benefited from the “huge equalizer,” as Kandell called it, that is the Internet.

“There’s no weird exceptionalism,” he said. “The most interesting stuff is the stuff that people are gonna find.”

Related: Columbia Journalism School professor wants to crowdsource longform journalism publishing | Pocket offers publishers ‘save for later’ tools

Previously: Steve Kandell is BuzzFeed’s new longform editor | BuzzFeed longform editor debuts today with longform history of Pong | What BuzzFeed’s evolution says about the future of longform journalism

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  • Anonniemuss

    The idea that people read that way doesn’t make any sense to me, but maybe I’m just old-fashioned? I’m not a fan of long-form journalism for its own sake; I’m a fan of good reporting and good writers. Which I partially define as: writers who aren’t such desperate careerists that they’ll write for BuzzFeed. Of the names mentioned above the only one I recognize is Natasha Vargas-Cooper, because I once accidentally clicked through to an interview with her at the Billfold. The name stuck in my mind because what she had to say was thoroughly repellant to me. Her commitment to being middle class, her sense of entitlement, and her lack of self-awareness didn’t appear to turn off the 20-somethings who were commenting there, but for me, being a little older, those are powerful and reliable signals of mediocrity. Call me old-fashioned, but I have about as much interest in reading long-form pieces written by ignorant, tasteless, 20-somethings like her as I do in perusing the rest of Buzzfeed. Are there really that many culturally blank people out there who like long-form writing for its own sake and don’t care where it’s published or who wrote it? Who just need x number of pieces per week to reassure themselves they’re not totally brain-dead, much the same way fatties will order diet coke alongside a tray of greasy gristle?

  • tim schreier

    Will the first piece be devoted to the Infrastructure challenges of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?