Early today, Politico’s Ben Smith announced that he will be “giving up this blog” (the recently renamed and relaunched “Ben Smith on Politics and Media” blog at Politico) to join BuzzFeed, which the The Atlantic Wire describes as a site that “is better known for flagging shareable content (like this currently trending video of a blind kitten helping to set up a Christmas tree) than cornering lawmakers with tough questions.” Smith aims, in his own words, to help BuzzFeed “build the first true social news organization—that is, an outfit built on the understanding that readers increasingly get and share their news on Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms.”
When I talked to Smith last summer for “The Reporter’s Voice” series in the current, 50th Anniversary issue of CJR, Smith wrestled with the question of where blogs, including his own, fit in today’s media landscape. Said Smith:
Now blogs feel so ancient and creaky. I think if you have a blog and an audience you can maybe hold that space you’re in and as that audience ages just age with it. But Twitter has displaced blogs as the place where you see something new for the first time. So the blog has lost a bit of its rhythm and centrality. Now you have this new place for one-liners. I do a lot fewer blog items of the form, hey, look at this cool thing, because people are seeing that cool thing on Twitter. The blog is now a vehicle [laughs] for long, analytical stuff. And for news breaks, certainly. It’s not the place where you conduct the central political conversation which I think I did with some success in ’08.
Could that place, eventually, be BuzzFeed? More from The Atlantic Wire on how BuzzFeed might be at least part of the political conversation:
[BuzzFeed co-founder Jonah] Peretti went on to explain how BuzzFeed’s small team of editors has already started to come up with new ways of reporting that involve not only covering stories but engaging in them as they happen. The best example he offered was the coordinated effort spearheaded by BuzzFeed that brought dozens of people to People’s doorstep with RyGos face masks to protest the magazine’s not naming Ryan Gosling as the Sexiest Man Alive this year. Imagine a more serious future in which BuzzFeed readers show up on the campaign trail with masks.
(Disclosures: BuzzFeed co-founder Kenneth Lerer is on CJR’s Board of Overseers and, for a couple of years in the late ’90s, I worked at Lerer’s strategic communications firm.)Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.