The 20-somethings Driving Viral Political Coverage



There was a fun piece on NPR about the four twenty-somethings who run Buzzfeed’s political research unit, who outed Hillary Clinton’s error in claiming to have four immigrant grandparents (she had only one) and dug up Donald Trump’s change of heart on Iraq.  As the article says,

BuzzFeed has grown past its roots as a viral site focused on lists and GIFs, and has earned credibility among more traditional journalists with some strong reporting from the campaign trail. Now BuzzFeed is offering a new multimedia form of accountability journalism: repeatedly revealing the candidates’ contradictions, hypocrisies, misstatements — and, at times, flat-out weirdness.

Here are some recent pieces that they’ve done, showing how –  like the rest of the media – they’re on Trumpwatch.

In this FT article, Buzzfeed’s founder says 70 percent of the content is viewed on mobile

“Now our prime time is the same as prime time television in the evenings and the majority is happening on mobile. Mobile is just a much better platform for social content than desktop was,” he says.  “Anytime people are bored or have an in-between moment, they look at their phone. Social platforms like BuzzFeed are monetising their commercial breaks.”

He criticises news websites for being too slow to adapt to mobile.

But Mr Peretti says that many news websites, which rely on clumsy, slow-loading banner ads designed for desktop machines, will struggle and have not gone far enough in embracing mobile channels. They “are feeling almost the way newspapers felt”, he says.  “The thing that a lot of companies are investing in as their digital solution now is starting to feel like a legacy product and so there’s going to be a need to really update,” he says. “That’s going to put some pressure on the banner advertising-driven, website-driven digital extensions of, say, print publications.”

One solution, outlined by Emily Bell in her CJR article, is native advertising or what used to be called advertorial.  And here is the long-promised John Oliver segment on native advertising.

Thanks to Sally Park, who pointed out how there’s been a furore in South Korea over advertising, after Gucci wrapped an ad around the front page of a popular newspaper (picture here and here).  This kind of blatant advertising is already quite entrenched in the US, even in local papers, as illustrated by this story from the Richmond Times-Dispatch in 2011.  It describes how newsroom staff were horrified by the advertising wrap, but the editor retorted by claiming that the readers don’t care,  or as he put it, “I’ve received no complaints from inside the newsroom or outside. No emails, no phone calls.”

Also, in the interests of supporting your fellow students, I’m also posting a link to the Passion Project, a podcast put together by my storytelling class.  I promise you, there’s no native advertising in it.


Blogpost on device or technology that is changing your beat. (Deadline: Mar 20 9pm)


1 )Wearables Could Make the Glance the new Subatomic Unit of News (Nieman lab)

2) How the FT Used Wearables to Open Up the Reporting Process (            

3)The Man Who Wants to Turn Our Clothes Into Modular Gadgets    (Wired)

4) In the Future, Robots Will Write News That’s All About You (Wired)