BuzzFeed

5 times journalists should have been listening to BuzzFeed’s podcast ‘Another Round’

Screen shot, Another Round

Screen shot, Another Round


If you’ve listened in to BuzzFeed’s “Another Round With Heben and Tracy,” you might look forward to Tracy Clayton’s super-bad jokes or Heben Nigatu’s live-list reading or that moment near the end of the show when they both sound pretty drunk. For me, one frequent highlight comes when they talk about the media.

Clayton and Nigatu are writers at BuzzFeed and co-hosts of the podcast. Here’s how they described the podcast as it launched:

Another Round is basically happy hour with friends you haven’t met yet. Grab a drink and yell along with your preferred electronic device as we talk about everything from pop culture to squirrels to racism to sexism to male strippers to literally everything.

If you’re a journalist, some of the talk at happy hour includes finding out what’s behind a piece, how a headline was chosen and what it’s really like to cover a story. Read more

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BuzzFeed launches open-source news lab

Wired | BuzzFeed

On Wednesday, BuzzFeed announced a new project, “BuzzFeed Open Lab For Journalism Technology and the Arts.” The lab has been in development for the last six months and will be based in San Francisco, writes Mat Honan, BuzzFeed News’ San Francisco bureau chief:

When you think about media experiments, you probably think about advertising models or paywalls or, more recently, partnerships with companies like Facebook or Snapchat. But those kind of media experiments are deeply boring to pretty much everyone who doesn’t depend on ads for a paycheck. The logic of this new lab is: screw it, let’s fly drones. Drones with lasers. And more to the point: let’s build drones with lasers and show everyone how to make them too. We want to push the envelope.

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Meet Cafe.com, the political news site with a sales strategy

BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith on Thursday profiled Cafe.com, a news site that’s aiming to be a “blend between Vox, BuzzFeed, the New York Times, and Amazon.”

Here’s the pitch, as told by founder Vinit Bharara to Smith:

“We’re trying to create these big blocs of communities,” Bharara said. Rather than simply serve readers display ads, the challenge is to “act as their union rep, go to the brands, and figure out a mutually advantageous way” to sell readers products. In the case of Scary Mommy, that could be diapers; on Cafe, Bharara suggested he might connect readers to advocacy groups. The site’s revenue would come from vendors, not readers.

Media companies once dreamed of being the home base for engaged, passionate communities, but that has declined alongside the rise of mobile, and of Facebook and Twitter.

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‘Mad Men’ actor to BuzzFeed staffer: ‘I’m sweating like a rapist’

BuzzFeed | The New Republic | CJR

Paul Johansson, the actor who played sleazy ad man Ferg Donnelly on the AMC drama “Mad Men,” allegedly made several sexual overtures during a session with BuzzFeed staffers at the company’s Los Angeles office last month.

He was at BuzzFeed’s office to be recorded for an article published by the news outlet.

Johansson repeatedly touched Editorial Assistant Susan Cheng and asked her whether she ever took people into a meeting room to “make out with them,” Cheng writes:

Then, in the middle of the shoot — for which we asked Johansson to act out reactions to so-called dicks in the workplace — the actor made another comment, one we did capture on camera. “I’m not shy,” he said to my colleagues and me under the hot fluorescent lights inside the studio.

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Publishing news direct to Facebook is a big step — but the Apocalypse is not upon us

Sceeenshot from Facebook

Sceeenshot from Facebook

My read on Facebook’s deal with nine news publishers to post some material direct to the platform: yes, it’s a significant business development but by no means apocalyptic, as some commentators are suggesting.

Here’s why:

Good company: It was artful of Facebook and the publishers to assemble nine prominent brands to launch the experiment  — including new media exemplar BuzzFeed, magazine-based National Geographic and four international titles.

Were this just The New York Times, for instance, one would wonder whether the opportunity and deal terms were a one-off match to their business situation.  Not so with this roster.

Favorable revenue split:  The publishers will (for now at least) get 100 percent of revenue for ads they sell and 70 percent of those Facebook sells.  Read more

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de Blasio accidentally sends NYT reporter email about subway gripes

New York | The New York Times

A New York Times story published Tuesday morning documenting Mayor Bill de Blasio’s subway angst was made possible by an errant email sent to a reporter from the paper. Michael Grynbaum explains how the “stern, bullet-pointed missive” found its way to a Times reporter’s inbox:

Mr. de Blasio, who has been making a concerted effort to repair his reputation for tardiness, copied two senior aides on the email, including his chief of staff. The mayor, by accident, added another recipient as well: a reporter for The New York Times.

Writing for New York, Jessica Roy raises the possibility that the wayward gripe wasn’t sent by accident at all, but instead a clever ploy to play up the mayor’s everyman sensibilities. Read more

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If it’s noteworthy, count on news outlets to spoil it for you

In the era of instant news that accompanies readers wherever they go, special attention has been given recently to preserving a blissful state of ignorance around watershed moments in pop culture.

The NCAA men’s basketball championship. The Grammy Awards. The plot twists that define wildly popular TV shows. In each of these cases, a news alert could spoil a pleasurable experience readers might want to experience firsthand. So how do news organizations balance the imperative to inform their audiences with the understanding that readers might want to occasionally remain unaware?

For some outlets, that answer to that question seems to hinge on how they define spoilers. In recent weeks, two major news organizations, The New York Times and The Associated Press, shared public case studies that shed light on their philosophies. Read more

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When April Fools’ Day goes wrong

Business Insider | BuzzFeed | Digiday

When April Fools’ jokes fall flat, they can really fall flat. Just ask the editors of The Cavalier Daily, the student newspaper of the University of Virginia. Business Insider writer Peter Jacobs reports that for this year’s April Fools’ issue, the newspaper’s editors decided to run a phony story making light of the case of Martese Johnson, the African-American UVA student who was beaten and bloodied by agents of the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control. In a piece titled “ABC agents tackle Native American student outside Bodo’s Bagels,” the paper pretends to report on a similar incident involving a different marginalized population and uses such fake names as “Strong Buffalo,” “Dances with Wolves,” and “Rabbit in the Grass.” After outraged students began complaining, the paper’s Managing Board pulled the piece offline and issued an apology. Read more

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Tucker Carlson: Media treated email flap like ‘fall of Baghdad’

Tucker Carlson, the founder and editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller, has weighed in on the vulgar email his brother, Buckley Carlson, accidentally sent a spokesperson for New York mayor Bill de Blasio.

In an interview with Real Clear Politics, Carlson said he refused to criticize his brother in public when asked for comment by various media organizations and wouldn’t do so even if “my brother committed a mass murder.”

He’s my brother. Period. Under no circumstances will I criticize my family in public. Ever. Ever. That’s the rule, and I’m not breaking it.

Carlson also called BuzzFeed, the outlet that broke the story, “crap the kids like” and told Real Clear Politics he doesn’t read it.

He recalled responding to inquiring reporters by telling them his brother “meant it in the nicest way,” in an effort not to engage their questions. Read more

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Look to the past for lessons on the news industry showdown with Facebook

News and commentary this week that leading news organizations are close to striking a deal to publish directly to Facebook’s platform reminds me, and others, of an industry faceoff six years ago with Google.

As you may recall, Rupert Murdoch had denounced Google for “stealing” content in its news summaries.  William Dean Singleton, chairman of MediaNews and the Associated Press board, threatened a war to protect newspapers’ copyright at AP’s and NAA’s 2009 conferences in San Diego. Google’s Eric Schmidt spoke to the NAA and faced a number of hostile questions.

We all know how that turned out.  Google won.  They continue publishing Google news summaries and referring traffic via search. Except to the AP itself, Google generally hasn’t paid for news it borrows. An AP-led effort to organize a licensing collective (NewsRight), never found its legs.  Read more

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