Buzzfeed and Gawker Save the News Industry

Lately, it has been highly debated whether or not Buzzfeed and Gawker are helping or hurting news outlets. I argue that not only do they offer legitimate news stories, but they are saving the news industry.

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Yes, okay, I understand a lot of their stories are written for the purpose of comedy, like this, or about food. (Personally, I like the food articles because they inspire me to become a foodie.)

However, with that said, they are also a news outlet and report news stories. Even more important is that they also get TRAFFIC to their stories because people want to read them and they attract the ideal target market: Millennials.

For example, this morning on Buzzfeed I saw this story “Say No To The Dress” and was fully expecting something comedic, but instead read a story about Chinese clothing scams being run through Facebook advertising. And even better yet, I found that on Facebook.

Right there is a great example of one of the strategies Buzzfeed and Gawker utilize to direct traffic and provide news stories.

Today, many younger persons would rather spend their free time looking at entertainment stories to give them a good laugh or scrolling through their social medias. So, social media websites that offer links to those types of stories popular among friends are more likely to garner attention than stories non-existent within social networks.

In this indirect way, Buzzfeed and Gawker are keeping the younger generations informed and paving the way for the future of the journalism industry.

Instead, news and information are woven into an often continuous but mindful way that Millennials connect to the world generally, which mixes news with social connection, problem solving, social action, and entertainment.

How Millennials Get News: Inside the Habits of America’s First Digital Generation

To reinforce this, it was found that Millennials have reported that just by using social media, they are being exposed to more news than they intended to initially. Because of this, Facebook has begun to be sought out for news regularly by about 88% of Millennials.

With that said, many might say this isn’t enough basis to say Buzzfeed and Gawker are saving the industry. However, I would counter that point by simply looking at the facts:

  • Currently, Buzzfeed gets more than 6 billion (yes with a ‘b’ not ‘m’) monthly visitors and 200 million UNIQUE monthly visitors
    • Of these unique visitors, 75% come from social media
  • According to this document, 86% of Millennials see diverse opinions on social media
  • Gawker, in the US alone, have 64,000,000 MONTHLY readers
    • As for unique visitors, they fall just below the New York Times

These numbers go to show that Buzzfeed and Gawker are both on the rise, and they are doing a great job at finding their spot in the news industry. Also, they are offering diversity within their stories rather than polarization, further legitimizing their spot as a news source even more so than some current “legitimate” news sources that are polarized.

As a result of this, and their level of advancement as a digital source, they have found and will continue to find far more success than their ‘hard news’ predecessors like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. They will also arguably save them by offering them a functional business model that is proven to be far more successful.

Even Lisa Tozzi found the appeal in Buzzfeed and left the New York Times to become the Buzzfeed news director. As she put it best:

I underestimated how liberated I would feel not worrying about a legacy product … [and I love] working in an environment where everyone is sold on the Internet

Many others have joined Lisa Tozzi at Buzzfeed because they see the future in journalism as sites like Gawker and Buzzfeed work to produce great journalism.

So, considering both Millennials use Facebook and other social medias to get news, that Buzzfeed and Gawker get major traffic from these sites, and journalists are now also turning to the outlets to further their career, have I convinced you they’re saving the industry?

I’m convinced.

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