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BuzzFeed Just Killed a Media Reporting Cliché

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The first rule of reporting on BuzzFeed is that you must always, always, remind readers that despite whatever journalistic high to which you are referring, the site is “better known for its listicles and cat videos,” or something along those lines.

But now the publication is splitting into two groups: BuzzFeed’s news and entertainment groups will split. The entertainment group will handle BuzzFeed’s “entertainment content, including short- and long-form video, lists, quizzes, and micro-content,” Emily Jane Fox reports for Vanity Fair, depriving other media organizations of the ability to take a sideways shot at the digital publisher.

I reported extensively (okay, once) on this media-reporting crutch in 2014, when BuzzFeed News Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith told me “We have certainly maintained — and expanded — our commitment to great, cat-led entertainment, even as we’ve invested heavily in journalism. These things aren’t in conflict: Most humans love animals; and also want to know what’s going on in the world.”

Reached by email, Smith says media reporters looking for a new crutch are on their own: “I’ll leave that to you,” he writes.

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Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.