From its start, Buzzfeed’s journalists shared the idea that the quicker a story was put out the better, even if it had not been thoroughly vetted. They felt that the internet was self-correcting and that the truth would emerge through open trial and error. While still maintaining much of this philosophy, Buzzfeed has decided that convincing its readers that its posts are true makes good sense regarding both journalism and business.
Buzzfeed, along with other non-traditional news organizations, is working to find a middle ground from which to approach journalism. In order to do so, they have started to use journalistic tools that have been derided as “old-school”, and one of the most fundamental of these tools is the copy editor. Buzzfeed has decided that it better to get it right from the start instead of trying to fix any errors after a story has been published.
This doesn’t mean slavishly following the “rules” of the past. Instead of insisting that stories have at least two source, one really strong and credible source is enough to see it to publication. The editor in chief, Ben Smith prefers to rely on smart reporters and on Twitter, fixing stories as they develop.
What is the primary concern that media veterans have with this type of hyper-immediate news delivery?
The primary concern that veterans have is the question of what is the very purpose of what journalist do. There is an ongoing debate over the core values of journalism and reporting. The old guard holds that it is the quest for truth and a sense of what the citizens need to know to be informed participants in our democratic process. The process was all about verifying the facts and only then presenting them to the public.
Where do you see potential problems with Buzzfeed's practices, or process of vetting stories?
The digital news revolution has been around long enough for the consequences of overly fast, or overly slow journalism to be evident. Too fast and the news reporting could become shoddy. Too slow and thoroughly vetted stories could lose their timeliness. It seems that there does need to be a balance between the old guard’s and the new digital journalists’ approaches to the dissemination of the news. The new readership wants to have their news served up with a minimum of delay. However, it is the responsibility of all journalist, from professionals to the newly risen citizen journalists, to delivery their stories with at the quickest speed possible, and with the largest amount of veracity.