Buzzfeeding You Garbage?

News media or not news media? That is the question

Photo Illustration: Yuliya Kim; Sources: CNN, BuzzFeed

Buzzfeed. What is there left to say that hasn’t already been said?

When I first came across the popular name, it was years ago on Facebook and was nothing more than mindless quizzes letting me know which Power Ranger I was or finding out which cereal I loved most based on my astrological sign (Cinnamon Toast Crunch by the way). Yeah, you can call that garbage until the cows come home. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t into it heavily at one point, but can we honestly begin to discredit Buzzfeed because of their silly content?

As much as you hate to admit it, you probably read Buzzfeed, maybe not daily, or weekly, but maybe monthly. You gush over their glorious celebrity gossip gab, you laugh at their long ludicrous lists, you wanna know why The Try Guys are testing their sperm count and you’ve liked/favorited, grilled, baked, and presented a few Tasty recipes, but how often have you credited them as a legitimate news source when the time came?

Buzzfeed’s ability to cross the far out whacky with the down right serious is like no other news source out there. Articles such as “Create A Sandwich and We’ll Reveal A Deep Truth About You” make you roll your eyes at them over and over again. Coming from a year showered in fake news and multiple attempts from the public to further embarrass Donald Trump, you would think that every journalist would corroborate any information that they get prior to publishing. You would hope that every publication out there would do some serious fact checking, now that mainstream media is constantly under fire for posting false and or absurd news. Sadly, that wasn’t the case here and it placed Buzzfeed under fire once again. Now a news source that wants to be taken seriously has taken yet another step back.

If you haven’t heard, the preposterous popular site came under fire for posting a 35-page dossier that contained allegations about Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia and the possibility that Russia might have compromising information on Trump. This has been a document that has been circling around the media for months now. When CNN decided to report on the secret document, Buzzfeed saw opportunity knocking on the door and decided to capitalize by inviting it in and raiding their kitchen. Their decision to share this document has come under hot fire, while some opinions are mixed, yet Buzzfeed’s Editor-In-Chief Ben Smith stands by the decision.
“Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the US government”

I’m all for transparency, but at what point does transparency become injudicious?

As Americans, we rely on news media to bring us the facts, especially about Donald Trump. We do not have the connections and resources of the mainstream media, so it is their duty as journalists to submit truth without ego. I, for one, am not Trump’s biggest fan, but the publishing of this dossier does put Buzzfeed’s decision into question. “Are we publishing articles about Donald Trump for the traffic or to insult him as much as we can?” Whether it’s true or not, both seem to cut the cake. As dozens of stories are released daily with nothing but negativity on Trump, Liberal America is quick to believe it, but why? Is Liberal America quick to jump because this information further discredits the individual who opposes what Liberal America stands for? Maybe it’s because liberals trusted mainstream media for centuries to submit the facts and nothing but. At the same time, lets look at conservatives. Quick to discredit Buzzfeed when they are throwing mud in the face of the Trump, but if the tables were turned and Clinton was the one with leaked information, Buzzfeed would be national heroes, right? Everything is so red and blue these days and it’s honestly disheartening, there is and always will be a divide.

On the spectrum, Buzzfeed as a news source fails to compare to the mainstream media moguls known as NBC, Fox, CNN, and even Facebook.

Though CNN is currently known as the tipping point for this particular published incident, they and many of their news competitors are no strangers to fake news. In Nov, NBC ran the headline “Reince Priebus on Muslim Registry: ‘Not Going to Rule Out Anything” a headline that implied that Republicans were planning to consider a Muslim registry, despite the fact Priebus stated,

“Look I’m not going to rule out anything but we’re not going to have a registry based on a religion.”

The contents of the article are true, but the title is click bait worthy enough to enrage millions of people to either take the issue far out of context or just ignore it completely. We more often than not have the tendency to click on links based on emotions and follow through that information with a bias opinion that has already swayed us in one direction. On Dec 27th, 2016, Fox & Friends reported a story with this headline: “Food Stamp Fraud at All-Time High: Is It Time to End the Program?” Click bait worthy at its best for sure, as the headline targets a rather specific demographic. We soon found that the information in the published segment and article was incorrect, for which Fox News swiftly apologized for; stating,

“The statistics reported Tuesday in a “Fox & Friends” segment about 2016 food stamp fraud were incorrect.
The latest USDA information, from 2009 to 2011, showed $853 million in fraud, or 1.3% in those three years. Nationally, food stamp trafficking is on the decline.”
“There is a serious disconnect between social media and news media that people are incapable of differentiating.”

I honestly do not know where to begin in terms of listing the amount of fake news created through Facebook, which isn’t a real news source. It just happened to be a place where people share news, but at the end of the day, it’s still a social media platform. There is a serious disconnect between social media and news media that people are incapable of differentiating. Your Mom’s friend from grade school sharing a post from a post she shared is by no means a credible news source. Fake news is around more than we could imagine and that’s the lamentable truth of the matter, So whose job is it to fact check? Us or the media? Who checks the fact checkers? Codex writer Kevin Wright weighs in on that aspect of coverage. Though what was published by the team over at Buzzfeed was without a doubt false, is society ready to discredit a news source that society never credited as a news source?

Buzzfeed’s readers are mainly made up of millennials and individuals who have already dove into the big stories of the week and or need something lighter to pass their time, it’s good for that. Yet, how many times has the news source been praised for their more in depth articles? It’s easy to discount articles such as “Blowing Up The Glass Ceiling” by Brian Castner. A look into the history of Linda Cox who became the military’s first female bomb technician over 40 years ago was written back in June of 2016. It dives deep into the discrimination, derision, and all the other distressing encounters a woman can go through during the times where equality and respect wasn’t fully set. How many people are following up with the investigative report Buzzfeed-BBC did on fixed matches in professional tennis? This is news and this is still going on today as most recently, Australian tennis player Nick Lindahl was just banned for 7 years and fined thousands of dollars for matches fixed in 2013. This is still going on today and none of this would have came to light if it was not for Buzzfeed. Even the man himself, President Obama has paid multiple visits to the news outlet in order to shed light on multiple situations and reach a broader audience just to get a message across. Buzzfeed is very possibly worth billions by now, so it’s not failing, though they will suffer from this situation, but with digital media surging more than ever, their trivial trivia and ineffectual lists are what’s garnishing the attention of the next generation to come, so they won’t suffer for long. I don’t think I can agree with the publishing of the dossier, despite the laughs and hashtags it produced, but if we can forgive and forget the fake news from the more serious giants, then we can do the same from Buzzfeed. Whether you like it or not Buzzfeed (in it’s own special way) is becoming a legitimate News Source, you just can’t pick and choose when you want to consider them as such. In a few days, we’ll be on to the next Trump controversy, this will all be behind us and you’ll be scrolling through Buzzfeed all over again taking a quiz titled “What Kind of Garbage Are You?

Aw c’mon Buzzfeed, now you’re just messing with me…

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