BuzzFeed uniques up 47% as New York Times profiles Editor Ben Smith

The New York Times | Daily Download | Gawker | comScore

Douglas Quenqua profiled BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith in The New York Times' Styles section Sunday, an infraction that cannot go unremarked.

Quenqua "labors on the misapprehensions that Smith invented blogging," writes Ben Jacobs, who says Smith "is merely applying traditional principles of the yellow press to the Internet."

While Quenqua stuffily compares to Smith to “other print reporters…waiting for deadlines to share the news,” that attitude is only a relatively recent one. In the glory days of newspapers, there were constantly new editions rolling off the presses with updated news. After all, there was no television; this was the fastest way for word to get out. There was not simply one edition of the newspaper, set almost in stone, that was published at a certain hour so that vans could trundle off on circulation routes. Copies were rushed out to newsstands as soon as the ink was dry.

Tom Scocca beefs with the article's headline, "The Boy Wonder of BuzzFeed":

Again and again, the Times keeps asking the reader to be surprised by something that is not a surprise at all on its merits. So here the Times offers up Ben Smith, "the Boy Wonder of Buzzfeed." Ben Smith is a married, 36-year-old father, who after performing well in a series of journalism jobs for more than a decade has become the editor-in-chief of a fairly new publication. ... He is a grownup who has a grownup job. Take away the false implication of precociousness, and what's left is the news that BuzzFeed exists, and that someone has to run it. You might think that the Times, busily purging its employees over age 50 to save money, would be more comfortable with the notion that people in their 30s can do things.

All points worth considering, though the fact that there are only two takedowns of the piece makes my own trend story a little less valid. The corrections box is piling on: An earlier version of the story "rendered incorrectly the name of BuzzFeed as Buzzfeed," the Times notes.

Meanwhile, BuzzFeed was feted as a "breakout property" in a recent comScore report, with a 47 percent rise in unique visitors over the past year. Such properties have "made a point of leveraging social media to disseminate content and attract new users."

BuzzFeed shares chart space in the report with Business Insider, which pushed up its uniques 43 percent, according to comScore. The New York Times wrote about BI blogger Joe Weisenthal's promotion to executive editor Sunday, but as far as I can tell Brian Stelter's report has not yet engendered any media criticism.

  • 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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