Is 'Borrowing' the Secret to Buzzfeed's Success?

Friday, July 06, 2012

The website Buzzfeed is a compendium of internet clickbait – a picture of an 800 pound shark, Mitt Romney looking goofy on a jet ski, 11 Ways To Get Inspired Right Now. But while the content may be trivial, but the website is quite lucrative, so much so that it's begun to hire actual journalists. Slate tech writer Farhad Manjoo decided to try to figure out how the site is able to produce such great content.

Buzzfeed, created by Jonah Peretti, one of HuffPo’s founders. The site is a compendium of internet clickbait – a picture of an 800 pound shark, Mitt Romney looking goofy on a jet ski, 11 Ways To Get Inspired Right Now. The content may be trivial, but the money is anything but -- the site raised its 3rd round of funding this year, 15.5 million dollars it’s used to hire actual journalists, like former Politico writer Ben Smith. Slate tech writer Farhad Manjoo is an avowed Buzzfeed fan, and he decided to try to sleuth out how, exactly, the site churns out such delicious offerings. Turns out, the stuff isn’t necessarily springing fully formed from his employees imaginations..


Farhad Manjoo

Hosted by:

Bob Garfield

Comments [4]


Your piece on buzzfeed was really surface deep. Buzzfeed, Kotaku, 9gag, funnyjunk and sites like them all pilfer their content to some degree from reddit. Reddit also aggregates a lot of its content from original source websites such as 4chan(which only ever seems to get in the news for the bad stuff.) Asking a person at Reddit whether or not they care that their content is being taken and used without credit or recompense is laughable.
This happened a long time ago in a far off internet where Ebaumsworld stole tons of content from Somethingawful and re-branded it as original content. When content producers tried to do something on an individual level the behemoth that was Ebaums either ignored them or fired off letters from their lawyers. There isn't enough at stake for the individual to pursue legal action and there isn't enough organization or will for a large group to take action. So the large aggregation sites will continue to feed off the work of original content producers and reap all the benefit.

Jul. 13 2012 06:31 PM

I came to make the same comment Robert did: your reporting, and lack of sources outside of Farhad Manjoo, did little justice to the Reddit site or its communities. I understand this story was meant to cover Buzzfeed, but Reddit is so much more than, well, Buzzfeed. Or imgur, or You guys should check it out: you'll find political discussions, technical discussions, atheist support groups, *theist* support groups, massive anonymous fundraising, LBGT counseling, on-the-ground citizen reporting, and yes, memes. Since one can choose the sub-Reddits that one sees, the fact that Manjoo (and Bob) consider it to be a funny meme site probably says more about their interests than about Reddit itself.

Jul. 12 2012 12:01 AM
Robert Sevens from Florida

You really did a disservice to the online site reddit when it was described in this piece as "a site where lots of people discuss funny things online,” and "It’s just a place where civilians go and they say 'OMG, look what I found—isn’t this hilarious?'"

It is a social news site, and though the young male contingent of its users can't get over themselves about how funny they are, international and US news, politics, technology and science discussions attract large numbers of users. I would also point out that though reddit is responsible for developing variations on meme themes, most internet memes originate on 4chan.

Jul. 07 2012 11:39 AM
mark woytovich from New York

re. Your piece on buzzfeed... There was no discussion of the ORIGINAL creator of the images that are being republished, for profit, at buzzfeed and places like it. As a photographer I am concerned about this blatant disregard for copywrite issues.

Jul. 07 2012 07:50 AM

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