Commentary

The "Perfect Modern Day" Media Mash-Up? BuzzFeed and CNN

Well, you know the world has a changed a bit when BuzzFeed puts out a press release that notes a new partnership with CNN.

In the fourth paragraph.

BuzzFeed, a sort of viral delivery system that claims 60 million uniques  a month and famous for stupid and addictive lists, said it will begin creating news and entertainment video for YouTube in addition to keeping its existing site.

It is also partnering with CNN to launch CNN BuzzFeed on the YouTube platform that will use footage from the all-news network (and why do I feel I should put quotation marks around that phrase?) mashed-up especially for social network users that will appear on CNN’s Website. 

The first one is there now: 20 of our favorite straight actors who played gay characters, which is, if nothing else (and I’d vote for “nothing else”) is a nice tie-in to “Beyond the Candleabra,” the Liberace biopic that debuted Sunday on HBO, which, like CNN is owned by Time Warner.

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 (If you search “Straight actors who play gay characters” on YouTube, you only get 6,930 videos, so it would seem the topic has been done. But many of them seem to be more interested in the question posed the other way—gay actors playing straight.)

Either way, this is the way CNN chose to debut this relationship. Are they serious?  I mean, are they serious?

Curiously, when I entered CNN BuzzFeed on YouTube’s search mechanism, I didn’t get the channel, but apparently I was the very first person to watch analysis from by site called SiliconAngle. You can be second, and so on. 

That video posits that CNN benefits from reaching 18-34s, who heretofore apparently have never heard of CNN and had no idea news could be so much damn fun. I’m not knocking SiliconAngle. I think they’ve got that analysis correct, but really, it seems that either BuzzFeed or CNN (and especially CNN) would have preferred a debut with a little more relevance and gravitas.

That would also not include “Amazing Rescue Moments on CNN” which is new to the new BuzzFeed site and has nearly 32,000 visitors in the last 15 hours. I found that by only entering BuzzFeed, not BuzzFeed and CNN. Fun video about amazing rescue moments, as they say, a pastiche of victims saved from death, with virtually no information. As we watched scared person after scared person get rescued, a narrator says, “It can seem voyeuristic.”

Oh, a tad.  

I’m probably getting a little unwound here because the idea is right there. The idea of CNN having a YouTube presence is brilliant. The stand-alone news Website may be over before many of them even got going. A presence on social media is crucial. CNN is/was on the right track.

The idea of CNN doing that with BuzzFeed also was brilliant.

But after that, well...

CNN looks, in the first hours, like a struggling news organization. But they know what they’re getting into. From the outside, we always think that.  

 “By pairing the journalistic strength and reach of the CNN brand with BuzzFeed’s unique editorial approach and young audience, our partnership will enable both organizations to engage new audiences,” said KC Estenson, SVP CNN Digital, in a press release. “It’s the perfect modern day media collaboration.”

That could be right.  

pj@mediapost.com

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