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Summary:

BuzzFeed’s mix of viral content driven by technology has already made it a potent force in news and political reporting. Now, the site wants to apply the same playbook to entertainment news.

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BuzzFeed, the viral news site that has already eaten a chunk of the eastern media sphere, has now set its sights on Los Angeles. The outlet is opening a West Coast office in the hopes of becoming a major player in entertainment news.

The plans, announced this week, involve building a team of reporters and editors who will apply BuzzFeed’s technology-driven approach to topics like celebrity foibles and the business of movie making. This approach, which often relies on lists and pretty pictures (see “50 kittens giving you kitty-cat eyes” at right), is based on creating content likely to be shared on social networks like Facebook.

BuzzFeed’s unabashed mix of high and low content may have disrupted news and political coverage in New York, but will it stand out in image-is-everything Los Angeles? LA entertainment and celebrity news is already dominated by picture-heavy media purveyors like TMZ, Sugar Media and the growing Penske empire which controls titles like Deadline and Variety.

BuzzFeed’s executive editor Doree Shafrir said in a phone interview that the site doesn’t consider the entertainment field to be over-crowded.

“I don’t agree that the current players in the space are thinking about viral the way we are,” said Shafrir, predicting the site would be able to replicate its success in political news, where BuzzFeed came out of nowhere to be a major media force. As with its hiring of Politico’s Ben Smith, BuzzFeed is stocking the LA office with journalists with lots of social media chops, including Hollywood veterans Richard Rushfiled and Kate Aurthur.

BuzzFeed, always two steps ahead on the social and technology front, has so far proved unstoppable. Its LA arrival, with top talent and a proven playbook, means it will get at least a foothold in the entertainment niche — though the town is likely to prove its toughest challenge yet.

(Image by Yuri Arcurs via Shutterstock)

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  1. Considering Jon Steinberg (COO) admitted that Buzzfeed BUYS Facebook promoted posts – I would hardly call that company “always two steps ahead” – welcome to the epitome of perception versus reality.

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