This morning’s Today programme featured the sound of new and old media colliding, as Buzzfeed founder Jonah Peretti tried to explain to a befuddled John Humphrys what, exactly, the site is and does:
Here's the line of questioning by Humphrys, delivered as an old man in a cartoon might question why kids wear their jeans so damn low these days:
You may not have heard of it but a lot of young people are turning to it, it's trebled in size in years, and it's making money, quite a lot of money ... Jonah Peretti, what is it? It's a news site, but when you look at it, as I've just been doing - I've not seen it before, I confess - it looks sort of trivial stuff.
Peretti defends the site by pointing out that Buzzfeed does both the serious and the trivial, and that "on the internet, you can have news travel across Twitter, you can have entertaining content travel across Facebook, some readers see one side of the content and other readers see the other side." Once you get past Humphrys' initial confusion there's a decent line of questioning about the mix of editorial and advertorial content on Buzzfeed, but it's not really pursued.
There's also a cameo by the Independent's Chris Blackhurst, there to represent The Newspapers. Fresh from his Sunday 13 October column where he claimed that he wouldn't have published material leaked by Edward Snowden because, if MI5 says he shouldn't, "who am I to disbelieve them?", he worries that, while features like "12 Cardboard Boxes That Look Like David Cameron" are "absolute genius"...
The problem is while I’m looking at that I’m not looking at anything else. I sort of feel people do go on it for entertainment, and how long they stay on, and whether they’re just picking up trivia, I’m not sure ... it certainly appeals to my older children.
Or, as it was put most witheringly by Buzzfeed's Tom Phillips:
Chris Blackhurst seems sceptical about whether BuzzFeed focuses enough on the kind of hard-hitting news that he would refuse to publish.
— Tom Phillips (@flashboy) October 15, 2013