17 Reasons Why BuzzFeed Lost Its Buzz

Nobody decent would ever make light of reports that 45 people are about to get terrible news just before Christmas. That's if the rumours are true, of course, and BuzzFeed has done nothing to deny it's shedding around a third of its London staff.

As this involves 23 of its 70 journalists, though, it makes it a talking point. Over the past couple of years BuzzFeed has been making a lot of noise about how it's the new face of news. It's the new wave of social media meets investigative journalism -- with a bunch of quizzes, listicles and stories about cats, of course.

But here we are today and the huge expansion -- the big noise -- it's all grinding to a halt. One in three of the staff that was going to show the nationals how the millennials know best are going to be given the P45s. Vice, the start-up video-based news site, had to make similar serious scaling-back decisions last year. 

When talking about BuzzFeed it is very tempting to announce 17 points that will make you think hard. The fact is, there are only two.

Quality journalism is incredibly expensive and used to be supported by people buying (yes, actually buying) newspapers en masse and advertisers queueing up to keep the news and features from bumping into one another. That has changed as print dies and every five pounds lost in print advertising revenue is only met with one new pound from digital.

Digital advertising, my friends, simply isn't plugging the gap for publications online, and matters are made even worse because one in five is using ad blockers. Among millennials this can rise to around at least one in four, so you can imagine what this is doing to BuzzFeed's income.

Secondly, people already know where to get news. If you take a look at BuzzFeed, the news is pretty much what you can read anywhere else with a little millennial twist. So there is some stuff that's screaming out for people to make viral, but it's next to headlines that you can ready anywhere else.

Plus, there is totally banal rubbish. Anyone wonder what a young reporter and her friend made of their latest fast food purchases? I thought not.

There's native -- and that's an obvious hunting ground for BuzzFeed which, I suspect, it will increasingly come to rely on. 

Let's revisit that opening figure of 23 or 70 journalists losing their jobs. Seventy journalists! Considering that nearly everything on the site is lifted from main news feeds that strikes me as an awful lot of people. I'm trying to think back to my years at The Sunday Times and I could probably say that it is comparable to the journalist head count on a national newspaper. 

Every report you read suggests that the love affair with fun, alternative sites for news discovery is waning. Subscriptions to traditional sites are swelling, and traffic to well-known news sites is swelling. OK -- so a lot of traffic comes via Facebook, but the point remains, I believe people are growing up in their choice of news brands.

I have no traffic figures to back it up, but I would also contend they are getting fed up with endless listicles and invitations to find out which Star Wars character they are, and so on. 

I say I have no figures, but I'd suggest the fact the one in three journalists are being let go at BuzzFeed rather proves the two points.

Decent journalism is expensive, and in the fake news era, people are flocking back to well-known, trusted news brands. This dims the once bright prospects for BuzzFeed and its listicles, no matter how much we're reassured number 4 will make us cry and number 7 will have us wondering why.

Next story loading loading..