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

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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