Pass the #popcorn

ICYMI: Mickey Kaus takes on BuzzFeed's Ben Smith and his Koch-funded immigration summit

According to a recent Pew study, 16 percent of adults online use Twitter — 8 percent daily. I’m pretty sure most of that 8 percent are journalists. Journalists love Twitter, whether using it for writing, conversation, or fighting. And I love to watch—and judge—the sparring.

If you see a #JournoTweetFight that you think merits inclusion, please give me a heads up @saramorrison.

BuzzFeed has become the poster child for “native advertising” and “sponsored content,” hosting verticals for “partners” such as Samsung, the state of Nevada, and the Charles Koch Institute. If that last one surprised you, you’re not alone:

DECISION: I’m not going to weigh in on whether or not BuzzFeed is wrong to take the Kochs’ money, especially for a summit on an issue as politicized as immigration. BuzzFeed has said (several times) that there is a wall between its editorial and advertising sides, and I’ve seen nothing to suggest otherwise. On the other hand, I don’t know why an organization as flush with cash as BuzzFeed says it is would feel the need to take more from the Kochs to host an immigration summit, or find only one panelist (from a Koch-funded organization, at that) to serve as the entire anti-amnesty side. That just begs for outside scrutiny.

Enter @kausmickey to provide exactly that. He’s got a point, although I think he’s a bit naive to suggest that BuzzFeed is the only outlet that would ‘sink so low’ as to take money for an event. @BuzzFeedBen is almost just as naive to seem surprised that anyone would think an advertiser’s money might influence its coverage and not simply trust him that it won’t.

That said, there is no winner or loser this time. Yes, this is one of those exceedingly rare Twitter fights where all parties come out seemingly satisfied and better for the discussion. Kaus will get to participate in the panel and share his thoughts in place of the embattled Heritage Foundation, and Ben Smith looks like he takes criticism seriously and isn’t afraid to give critics a voice on his stage. It’s a tie!

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Sara Morrison is a former assistant editor at CJR. Follow her on Twitter @saramorrison. Tags: , , ,