BuzzFeed on responding to interview requests: 'We can't reveal ALL of our secrets'
New York Post reporter Lois Weiss' story about BuzzFeed's purported hunt for more office space contains a bombshell:
BuzzFeed, led by former Huffington Post founders Kenneth Lerer and Jonah Peretti along with John Johnson and former Politico editor Ben Smith, did not return 13 calls or e-mails for comment.
Thirteen fruitless attempts? The longest turnaround time I've ever suffered between emails to Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith is 44 minutes (an unusual stretch; usually it's one to three minutes). Press Director Ashley McCollum replies quickly or even uses the not particularly BuzzFeedy medium of a phone call.
It does not matter if you're writing about a happy or a not very complimentary story: BuzzFeed responds.
"We are generally happy to talk to the press and be transparent about all the things we're doing," McCollum tells Poynter in an email I received 24 full minutes after requesting comment on the site's policy of commenting. "But we can't reveal ALL of our secrets."
Here is a not-comprehensive list of examples I could find of BuzzFeed not going on the record:
• "BuzzFeed declined to comment, but is looking into the matter." — Cameron Scott, Social Times, Oct. 17, 2012
• "Sites including BuzzFeed, which has been widely thought of as a pioneer in the native field, declined to comment this morning on its sponsored post strategy and standards, perhaps a sign that many are reluctant to weigh in on a still-emergent process." — Charlie Warzel, AdWeek, Jan. 15, 2013
• "Smith did not comment on ongoing rumors that Jonah Peretti is planning to replace him with Horse of Horse ebooks." — Max Read, Gawker, Feb. 21, 2012
• "Ben Smith, BuzzFeed editor, declined to comment about the apparent mess you and Stuart have made here, on the grounds that the story is still being reported." — Erik Wemple, The Washington Post, Feb. 26, 2013
• "BuzzFeed was invited to participate in the segment but declined -- which Greenwald called a "cowardly" move" — Danny Shea, The Huffington Post, Feb. 26, 2013
• "Dave Stopera did not respond to an email requesting comment. BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith declined immediate comment." — Philip Bump, The Atlantic Wire, March 8, 2013
Please note: The Twitter feed of Atlantic Politics Channel Editor David A. Graham is nearly as good a source of story ideas as Reddit:
— David A. Graham (@GrahamDavidA) April 24, 2013