Why Does BuzzFeed Invest So Much In Serious Journalism?
The success (and reputation) of the most popular news site among young adults was built on entertainment – such as its famous lists and animated GIFs.
But, as I documented on Superception, BuzzFeed has then transitioned to serious journalism. The startup is investing in real-time news reporting and investigative journalism and hiring reporters around the world.
Jonah Peretti, the site’s cofounder and CEO, recently explained the rationale for this strategy to the Guardian:
“If we just cared about pure traffic, we would do entertainment.
News drives repeat visits, it drives usage. You always want to know what’s going on and what’s the latest, and so it’s a way of creating habits.
News is both good and bad for business: Good because it keeps consumers coming back for fresh pieces of information; bad because it can cost more to produce and is shared less.“
Jonah Peretti’s strategy confirms what I have always written on Superception, that the press will only save itself from digital extinction by providing high-quality editorial content (reporting, investigation and analysis). If news curation was sufficient to attract and retain audiences, BuzzFeed wouldn’t invest so heavily in the production of original content.
Furthermore, audiences’ loyalty to their prime source of news is a strong argument in favor of the use of subscription models by news media that can’t be profitable with only advertising. This is particularly the case of press groups whose digital developments are burdened by the decrease of their print edition’s advertising revenues.