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"solved the problems of both journalism and advertising at once"
April 15, 2013 7:21 AM   Subscribe

Does BuzzFeed Know The Secret? The National Republican Congressional Committee seems to think so, since they redesigned their website. But they're just following BuzzFeed's advice.

Andrew Sullivan, on sponsored content:
I am accusing those institutions of pushing as far up to the line between advertorial and editorial as can be even remotely ethically justified. I am accusing them of now hiring writers for two different purposes: writing journalism and writing ad copy. Before things got this desperate/opportunistic, the idea of a magazine hiring writers to craft their clients’ ads rather than, you know, do journalism, would have been unimaginable. A magazine was not an ad agency. But the Buzzfeed/Atlantic model is to be both a journalism site and an ad agency.
via: BuzzFeed and the Future of Advertising

Previously: A Milestone Year For Media
posted by the man of twists and turns (67 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why Are Lists So Irresistible? [not a list]
So what's the lesson here? Lists are magic. Buzzfeed has built its spectacular success on that principle (just look), there are other web sites who have similar success, (see, for example, Cracked, which on the web is something very different and more successful than its print roots as a Mad magazine rip-off), and it's something every magazine and website editor knows.
via: One reason that we all love lists
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:23 AM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


My takeaway: there is no longer any such thing as ethics in American life.

And we don't care. We just don't care. We keep voting for it.
posted by Malor at 7:27 AM on April 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Huh. I recently unsubscribed from Buzzfeed in my RSS reed. The signal/noise ratio on that site was getting worse and worse over time. Now I realize that it's probably due to the amount of paid content that they were pushing on me.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:27 AM on April 15, 2013


30 reasons why Buzzsfeed solved the problems of both journalism and advertising at once?
posted by Damienmce at 7:28 AM on April 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think people like lists on online articles because it creates the concept of ranking and the implication that you're hearing about the "best" of something, or at least the most prominent.

The other reason they work is because people reading stuff online get bored easily. You don't read stuff online the way you would, say, read a book or your Kindle. Lists mean you have a subconscious indicator about how long what you're about to read is and when it ends. That honestly compels people to look at it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:29 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Buzzfeed steals half of their posts from reddit. *yawn*
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:29 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


27 Ways Poor People Could Get Ahead (If They Just Tried A Little Harder)
posted by GenericUser at 7:34 AM on April 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


27 Ways Poor People Could Get Ahead (If They Just Tried A Little Harder)

FILTH! UNEMPLOYED Internet snarkers on the RAMPAGE!
More on PAGE THREE.
posted by Mezentian at 7:44 AM on April 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


My latest idea for a computer game is inspired by Buzzfeed. It's called Pagination. It's a top 30 list that gets progressively more ad-intensive and anti-user the further along you get. It will take 4 hours to complete.
posted by hellojed at 7:47 AM on April 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


On the front of the NRCC page right now:
How President Obama’s plan completely ignores Washington’s spending problem – in 4 CHIFs (Charts Made of GIFs)
CHIFS! This is less the uncanny valley of the Internet and more a Johnny 5 lovable-robot-wants-to-be-human. Let's electrocute 'em.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:48 AM on April 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


"CHIFs"? Seriously? That's not even wrong.
posted by scrowdid at 8:00 AM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


CHIFS Seriously? 32 reasons these new images are taking over the Internet
posted by Damienmce at 8:02 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Every once in a while I'll find something I really like on Buzzfeed, but most of time I just make myself angry. I think some of the people they have writing for them are border line illiterate.
posted by broken wheelchair at 8:03 AM on April 15, 2013


CHIFNOGARPHIGS are the future
posted by boo_radley at 8:06 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


CHIFS sounds like a buddy-cop tv show from the 70's
posted by hellojed at 8:06 AM on April 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Cannibalistic Humanoid Image File?
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 8:07 AM on April 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


There was just a New Yorker article about Vice and their in-house sponsored content creation (among other things).
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:09 AM on April 15, 2013


Andrew Sullivan trying to get away with writing any sort of J'accuse is patently risible, but then so is most of anything he writes.
posted by blucevalo at 8:12 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


RAIDRS 21, CHIFS 14
posted by brain_drain at 8:13 AM on April 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


My takeaway: there is no longer any such thing as ethics in American life.

And there never has been. Never. Has. Been. Not in the way you're thinking of. People have never been good about caring about the community besides the ones right under their noses, and they're not too good at caring about that community either.

Now we have news stories about atrocities in countries around the world, in states across the country, the stories of every tragedy that could possibly cross under our noses. The world is a large and terrifying place, and now we have the illusion of looking at it. We also have the unfortunate reality that no, people don't care. You don't care and I don't care. We might care that we don't care, but that's not the same as actually caring.

The question of how do you capture somebody's attention about important things when said important things are difficult and frustrating and when there are a million other things to pay attention to is not a question with an easy answer. There probably isn't an answer; the solution lies along other lines. I don't blame the Republicans for trying to mimic the most "entertaining" web sites; it's one possible route and it'll probably have some success with some audience somewhere. But don't put this down on some vast social failure, or at least don't act like it's something unusual and new. The ethics you're talking about are an illusion at best; for most people they've never existed, no matter which point in history you try to look at.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:14 AM on April 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


brain_drain: "RAIDRS 21, CHIFS 14"

Holy moly, Republicans. What is up with this.
posted by boo_radley at 8:16 AM on April 15, 2013


In other news, the Republicans are now, finally, officially, completely out of ideas.
posted by COD at 8:25 AM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh look, they use senorgif.com too!

I actually get annoyed when Buzzfeed links get put up here; some of them sound tempting but I always, always regret clicking on them.

I would say I look forward to the insanity that will continue to result from Republicans attempting to deal with reality, except that whatever they do always ends in another law punishing me for wanting to be a female with autonomy. So every laugh comes with a built-in cringe.
posted by emjaybee at 8:26 AM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's an interesting concept, but the images on their site are all popping out of their containers.

The GOP's "outreach" strategy has certainly taken a number of interesting turns this week, and I haven't seen very much to indicate that they're learning from any of their past mistakes.

I suspect that Rand Paul's trainwreck* of a speech at Howard University last week is only the tip of an iceberg that will be sure to provide Jon Stewart with a continuous stream of new material.

*No, really. Rand Paul showed up to speak at the country's preeminent historically black college, and his speech gradually devolved into lecturing the students about racism while (literally) questioning their intelligence.
posted by schmod at 8:27 AM on April 15, 2013


If Buzzfeed is the future of communication then we should, as a species, give up communicating. No more writing. No more speaking. No more photos. No more meaningful glances. No more expressive body language. Nothing. Nothing at all. Everyone should just stare straight ahead of them and instantly look away if they accidentally make eye contact with someone. It's just not fucking worth it anymore.
posted by dortmunder at 8:30 AM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


roomthreeseventeen: “Buzzfeed steals half of their posts from reddit. *yawn*”

Reddit is an aggregator. Reddit therefore steals 100% of its posts from somewhere else.

Well, actually that's not strictly true. At this point Reddit steals about 95% of its posts from itself.
posted by koeselitz at 8:30 AM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think redesigning a political site to look like a rapidly updating blog/tumblr/buzzfeed thing is genius. The new NRCC site looks exciting, fresh. It feeds the same sort of hunger for news lite as USA Today, right wing talk radio, and Huffington Post.

Buzzfeed itself is horrible and I've finally trained myself not to click on the links. But it's also very effective. What makes it horrible is it interrupts my daily Internet search for original research and articles with their republished crap. But that format makes sense for NRCC, both because they are originating content and because to some extent, NRCC's role is republishing other Republican activities.
posted by Nelson at 8:33 AM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it's jokey as hell to us but imagine being in high school, growing up with Buzzfeed and Reddit and then the parents come in and hey, we've got a website too, you don't have to embrace your gay friends or the black president because this is more cool, just look how much fun they make of these respective issues!

A smart kid is going to spot the holes in the jokes and culture but I don't remember there being a lot of smart high school kids when I was in high school. I remember growing up with reddit and thinking that the Tesla cars were the wave of the future and not huge wastes of lithium and believing that, really, if only we yelled loud enough, we would soon have an atheist utopia.

This isn't about reaching out to the settled-in-their-ways liberals and progressives, this is about cultivating a new young Republican base and providing for them all the accoutrements of an inside-joke, self-affirming internet club (MetaFilter: blah blah etc).

Buzzfeed and Gawker are the trivial one-page articles and culturally-astute photoshop jobs you find in the back of Businessweek or scattered throughout Wired. It's what you read when you take a dump because it's insubstantial fluff but for a kid it's the entire world of the magazine you find laying out around the house. Except it's much more affirming because there aren't those huge walls of daunting texts that you might sit down and actually read one day, it's just the crud that tells you that it's okay to be a walking turd because aren't we all just shallow, selfish shits after all?
posted by dubusadus at 8:42 AM on April 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


I love how this new layout's header has the background image of a lonely road in the desert, with a storm rising. No people—just quietly looming disaster! (And rural disaster, no less, in the American Southwest—possibly involving immigration? Who knew the desert could dog-whistle?!)
posted by limeonaire at 8:50 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nelson: “Buzzfeed itself is horrible and I've finally trained myself not to click on the links. But it's also very effective. What makes it horrible is it interrupts my daily Internet search for original research and articles with their republished crap. But that format makes sense for NRCC, both because they are originating content and because to some extent, NRCC's role is republishing other Republican activities.”

The thing is that I get the feeling you don't realize the breadth of what Buzzfeed does. Yes, a huge chunk of the most popular Buzzfeed links are all crappy reaction gifs and shit. But I've been surprised over the past few months to note that articles like this have started appearing. Yes, that's just a feature on David Lee Roth, and I'm not super-duper interested in the subject matter – but it's journalism, it's well-written, it's not republished, and it's specifically being written by people who are paid to write for Buzzfeed. Or take this as an example – that's quality political reporting, and Buzzfeed is making it happen.

I mean, honestly – I understand that those annoying listicles are really tiresome, but you have to face the fact that at this point that's not all Buzzfeed is. And I guess the idea is that the popular if annoying listicles and reaction gif pages are going to pay for the actual journalism content. I'm not sure – that might seem like a very good idea, though.
posted by koeselitz at 8:55 AM on April 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Related: The disruptive potential of native advertising
posted by cjorgensen at 8:59 AM on April 15, 2013


SEO
posted by destro at 9:09 AM on April 15, 2013


Rory Marinich: And there never has been. Never. Has. Been.

This is one of the prime intellectual errors, one particularly common in the young: the incorrect belief that things have always been as they are now, and that they will always be this way in the future. You're demonstrating it in spades, here.

There have always been people who didn't care, but they were never so prevalent as they are now. And America didn't have such a huge percentage of idiots and scaredycats. Ethics once mattered, a very great deal. That's why Watergate was a huge scandal, yet today far worse things happen, and people barely yawn.

This country is very different than it was even two decades ago, and you are falling into the trap of the young by asserting otherwise.
posted by Malor at 9:11 AM on April 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


Andrew Sullivan trying to get away with writing any sort of J'accuse is patently risible, but then so is most of anything he writes.

With respect to the subject of this post, it's like we are supposed to forget his tenure as editor of The New Republic, an early, per-Internet aggregator of Republican, neoconservative talking points.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:12 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


There have always been people who didn't care, but they were never so prevalent as they are now. And America didn't have such a huge percentage of idiots and scaredycats.

How do you know this to be true? Better yet, can you articulate a manner of demonstrating it?
posted by clockzero at 9:16 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ah, the GOP and Buzzfeed merging together...

I wish that Metafilter had that adjective bar like BF does, so I could press the "WTF" button.
posted by codacorolla at 9:19 AM on April 15, 2013


This is one of the prime intellectual errors, one particularly common in the young: the incorrect belief that things have always been as they are now, and that they will always be this way in the future. You're demonstrating it in spades, here.

This is one of the prime intellectual errors, one particularly common in the old: the incorrect belief that things naturally get worse as one gets older, and that this conveniently maps on to their own belief of their present personal superiority. You're demonstrating it in spades, here.
posted by codacorolla at 9:21 AM on April 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


you have to face the fact that at this point that's not all Buzzfeed is.

Yeah, you're right, and looking back at my linkblog I've re-shared about 10 of their posts since 2010. Here's a couple of recent examples of good Buzzfeed journalism: Is Scientology Self-Destructing? and The Silent Partner (about Jason Goldman, of Blogger / Twitter / Obvious). Even the BuzzFeed lists-of-photos pages sometimes show good curation. And Buzzfeed is pretty good at linking to original sources, better than most of their bottomfeeding competition.

But BuzzFeed's brand identity is crappy lists of repurposed content plastered with their ads. It's good to be reminded there's occasionally something good buried in the dross, but that doesn't change that the site is mostly dross.
posted by Nelson at 9:27 AM on April 15, 2013


There have always been people who didn't care, but they were never so prevalent as they are now. And America didn't have such a huge percentage of idiots and scaredycats.

How do you know this to be true?


How does Rory Marinich know that that his assertion has been true throughout all of time?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:29 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Malor: “My takeaway: there is no longer any such thing as ethics in American life. And we don't care. We just don't care. We keep voting for it.”

Rory Marinich: “And there never has been. Never. Has. Been. Not in the way you're thinking of. People have never been good about caring about the community besides the ones right under their noses, and they're not too good at caring about that community either.”

Malor: “This is one of the prime intellectual errors, one particularly common in the young: the incorrect belief that things have always been as they are now, and that they will always be this way in the future. You're demonstrating it in spades, here.”

Strangely, condescending ageist boorishness like this seems to be on the decline.

“There have always been people who didn't care, but they were never so prevalent as they are now. And America didn't have such a huge percentage of idiots and scaredycats. Ethics once mattered, a very great deal. That's why Watergate was a huge scandal, yet today far worse things happen, and people barely yawn. ¶ This country is very different than it was even two decades ago, and you are falling into the trap of the young by asserting otherwise.”

A couple of things:

First of all, Malor, the first statement you made here was so broad as to be fairly incoherent. It's the kind of absolute generalization that's convenient to make, but very difficult to actually back up in any rigorous way. You're trying to claim you've measured how much people care now compared to how much they cared in the past – and you're claiming you furthermore managed to correlate that precise measurement of "caring" with general ethical valuation (which you also seem to have measured precisely)? These are huge things to try to do, and the flippancy of four very short, dismissive sentences doesn't really cover it.

Second, while you may find this surprising, I actually probably agree with you somewhat. I think moral thought is undervalued, and I think the society we've built for ourselves is responsibility for a general fear of moral thinking, which people assume will lead to shame. However, this is a general feeling I have about the world, and while I could point to instances where it seems to be true I don't claim it's an absolute and easily-verifiable fact. And moreover I feel like there are nuances to this that you're steamrolling over; who built the society that we have today? People in the 1970s, people in the 1980s, people in the 1990s. There is not some magical disconnect where we can say that once we were wonderful and now we are terrible. I'm totally spitballing here, and I admit that it's vague and ill-defined, but my sense is that the idea that moral thought ought to be central to society was jettisoned by Montesquieu, for whom our highest duty is merely to respect the rights of others, to live and let live. This seems to me to be the modern dogma, and as far as I can tell it's held for centuries. But, again, I'm speaking far more broadly than the data allows, if what I want is accuracy.

Third, Rory's right to point out that you seem (in my opinion) to be falling into a trap that's just as common as the notion that things have always been the same: the sense that we're in moral decline, that things were wonderful but are now terrible. The fact is that people were unethical in the past; they were immoral, and they displayed a great lack of care for morality. One can say, I guess, that things have changed as far as our stances toward morality; but that's a limited thing, and we'd need to talk about what that means. (That's why I said above that I think people try more now to avoid moral thought out of a sense that shame is something terrible; because I think if we're going to talk about this we have to discuss the mechanics of what's going on, instead of just laying down vague absolutes.) The idea that a switch was flipped, and suddenly an innate decency which humans were capable of suddenly disappeared, is not only incredible and implausible; it's refuted by the historical facts. People in the past did some terrible things.

And, really, I don't think we can connect any lack of morality with the rise of internet advertorials. Honestly that seems inane to me. Americans have adored intellectually-dubious advertisements for generations now; how is this a change? This has been a fact since the cigarette companies used the women's suffrage movement to change the taboo against women smoking by tricking people into thinking it was a feminist act for a woman to smoke. Ah, but that was back in the 1920s - when people really knew and valued ethics – so of course that must have been okay, right?
posted by koeselitz at 9:38 AM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Steely-eyed Missile Man: “How does Rory Marinich know that that his assertion has been true throughout all of time?”

He was making an appeal to an intuition about human nature. And frankly, the facts are on his side. Given that people did do unethical things in the past – often on a grand scale – it seems unwarranted to make the claim that the devaluation of ethics is some sort of modern innovation.
posted by koeselitz at 9:39 AM on April 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I’ve been mostly pleasantly surprised by Buzzfeed over the years. Jonah is a smart editor who knows what he’s doing, and the mix of fluff to depth is one of the most interesting things about the site. Even their listicles surprise me with their light touch and good humor. I still make an effort to avoid them though, just to maintain sanity and preserve time.
posted by migurski at 9:40 AM on April 15, 2013


There have always been people who didn't care, but they were never so prevalent as they are now. And America didn't have such a huge percentage of idiots and scaredycats.

How do you know this to be true?

How does Rory Marinich know that that his assertion has been true throughout all of time?


My comment was intended to question whether such assertions should be taken for truth without further qualification, so your remark is very much to the point as well. I think koeselitz' response is a good answer.
posted by clockzero at 9:41 AM on April 15, 2013


I have to agree with Malor. I think there is ample evidence that our culture is currently reaching new lows from a relatively recent historical perspective. Not that there was some grand, golden age when we were all upstanding human beings--that age has never been. But that we've grown much more tolerant of blatantly unethical, and perhaps even more importantly, self-destructively short-sighted and selfish behavior in recent decades. It's not the kind of claim that lends itself to any one single definitive set of proofs, but just the way people react (or don't, in fact, react) to revelations about dishonest and unscrupulous behavior now convinces me there really is a problem with contemporary culture. But that's not the kind of question that can ever be settled to everyone's satisfaction, and definitely not one anyone's going to settle with a few comments on one side or the other here.

There are actual studies that show, for instance, that academic cheating has been on the rise for some time now. There are lots of other more rigorous lines of evidence in that direction, so it's not all just anecdotal. I'm also inclined to be suspect of the "things have ever been thus" argument because it could be made just as well in historical circumstances when things certainly weren't just business as usual, and because I suspect (and there's lots of evidence to support the idea, too) that the human mind has a deep, self-protective tendency to try to view present social and cultural conditions as "normal" whether they are or are not.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:44 AM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


They're taking narcissistic personality disorder out of the DSM. QED.
posted by limeonaire at 9:46 AM on April 15, 2013


Actually, I do probably agree that Malor's specific way of formulating his claim is not especially helpful. But whether the issue is that "we don't care about ethics anymore" or whether it's that certain other harmful cultural assumptions have taken hold, or however you want to put it, I do believe there is a very basic trust problem in our culture now and we're seeing it play out in a lot of areas where we're having problems.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:47 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


saulgoodman: “I have to agree with Malor. I think there is ample evidence that our culture is currently reaching new lows from a relatively recent historical perspective. Not that there was some grand, golden age when we were all upstanding human beings--that age has never been. But that we've grown much more tolerant of blatantly unethical, and perhaps even more importantly, self-destructively short-sighted and selfish behavior in recent decades.”

I agree somewhat – I believe the best evidence you have on this is Bowling Alone, incidentally – but I don't see how that has anything whatsoever to do with advertorials.

(Also, while I agree with the conclusions of Bowling Alone, it predates the internet; and it's very hard to figure out how these things have trended, say, in the past decade. So I still have some hesitation about making broad generalizations.)
posted by koeselitz at 9:48 AM on April 15, 2013


I think some of the people they have writing for them are border line illiterate.

So the RNCC has made the right choice, then?

I can't wait until the "it's not that our message blows donkey balls, it's that we're presenting it wrong" philosophy dies the death it deserves.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:59 AM on April 15, 2013


My takeaway: there is no longer any such thing as ethics in American life.

I would characterize it more specifically as everyone believing in "market" ethics over all and the general discarding of other pre-existing ethical institutions (here, the ethics of journalism), if I'm reading the impetus of this comment correctly.
posted by furiousthought at 10:00 AM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Actually, I think I agree koeselitz. The more I think about it, the more I realize I don't necessarily agree with Malor after all--at least, not with the unqualified, very general version of the claim he makes. But that's the catch with broad generalizations: it's tempting to think of the particular cases that do fit and buy into the general form of the argument on that basis when the general form of the idea might actually go too far and be unsupportable.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:00 AM on April 15, 2013


Another Republican outreach facepalm: High taxes mean you can't go to brunch as often as you'd like.
posted by schmod at 10:13 AM on April 15, 2013


The longer I live, the more Idiocracy seems prophetic.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:23 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I totally get why the Buzzfeed format works for them as an entertainment/advertising site. Seeing the same format on the NRCC website just makes the GOP look ridiculous. It looks like a bad parody of right wing politics.
posted by asnider at 10:34 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is just another in a long string of GOP Thought Deflection Attempts to bypass actually dealing with issues and finding solutions. Just like Sarah Palin spent a bunch of time at CPAC milking the applause with a Big Gulp in lieu of actually saying anything of substance, this new NRCC site is geared towards thinly veiled flame-bait topics that solve no problems but give conservatives something to simper about. It satisfies their feelings they are actually discussing the issues.

But hey....if you do not get what the site is about, you need to study it out to find enlightenment. You will reach the conservative promised land soon enough and be a 1%-er just like Mitt and Donald.
posted by lampshade at 11:02 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I actually blocked buzzfeed in my hostsfile. If I read anything there I tend to end up clicking the stupid 'related' links and end up wasting a shitload of time. And it's not like it's edifying content. Stuff like "425 people who are awesome" which is a collection of vaguely humorous images or whatever. It's idiotic.

Someone should come up with a 'related link blocker' like adblock to help people avoid wasting time.

There're not as bad as Huffpost, though (which is also blocked). The thing with huffpo is that they will have an article with a salacious title like "X calls Y a crack addict!?" and the article is like "X says Y is totally addicted to Game of Thrones 'it's like crack', she says." - It's just fucking stupid, an example of optimizing for clicks without considering the long-term effects.

At least with buzzfeed you generally know whether or not something is going to be idiotic, and buzzfeed's longer-form articles are generally pretty good, but critically they present their long-form articles in a way that actually lets you see their content. You don't have to click a bunch of 'next' buttons, they don't clutter the hell out of their pages with completely pointless links. And hell, even in their 'normal' articles you get everything on one page instead of needing to click through a 'slideshow' (seriously, why the fuck are people still doing that!?).

It seems like HuffPo might have some 'in depth' coverage somewhere, but it's impossible to find.
This is one of the prime intellectual errors, one particularly common in the young: the incorrect belief that things have always been as they are now, and that they will always be this way in the future. You're demonstrating it in spades, here.

There have always been people who didn't care, but they were never so prevalent as they are now. And America didn't have such a huge percentage of idiots and scaredycats. Ethics once mattered, a very great deal. That's why Watergate was a huge scandal, yet today far worse things happen, and people barely yawn.
It's true that Watergate was a huge scandal, but keep in mind, Watergate was an attack by elites on elites, it was also 'unofficial'. Compare it to COINTELPRO. How much of a 'scandal' was that? Obviously I don't know since I wasn't around. But no one went to jail or even got fired over it, right? (I actually don't know...)

Compare that to the guy who got busted for insider trading - the only prosecution of any high-up Wall-Streeter since 2009 was the prosecution of the guy who ripped off Goldman Sachs, totally unrelated to the mortgage meltdown.

I think one of the things we have to keep in mind is that we have increased transparency due to Increased technology. Imagine if Watergate had happened in 1890. There would be no tapes, and thus no evidence. Today communication is even cheaper and more pervasive, and there are far fewer gatekeepers and far more people looking over public information and able to find corruption.

Look at political coverage today and fundraising is a major component of it. Corruption not only out in the open, discussed, but talked about as if it was a sport. 40 years ago, how much coverage of political fundraising and influence peddling was there? Does that mean it didn't happen?

So I think you may be making a "prime mistake of old people": the belief that because there was less coverage of corruption in the media when you were young, there was actually less corruption.
There are actual studies that show, for instance, that academic cheating has been on the rise for some time now.
The article you linked too blames the internet for making cheating easier. Again, this is an effect of technology, not some kind of change in culture itself.
They're taking narcissistic personality disorder out of the DSM. QED.
IMO The DSM is kind of a mess, full of qualitative nonsense. In any event, I looked it up, and they are not actually removing it. It's removal was proposed then withdrawn. But what they are doing is moving towards a 'dimensional' model where people are more or less narcissistic, which is probably more realistic.
posted by delmoi at 11:03 AM on April 15, 2013


BuzzFeed responds.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:58 AM on April 15, 2013


Relating to the actual content of the post, I wonder how much of this is an effort to control messaging versus the extreme elements of the party? The whole thing is set up to be share-bait posts that are custom built to be passed around by your crazy racist uncle, but are of course branded messaging from NRCC instead of the chem-trail stuff from Freep.

So, possibly this isn't an effort (or at least not a serious effort) to capture new voters, but rather a way to control the fringe.
posted by codacorolla at 12:27 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


They'll eventually decide to unleash a few swift-boat organisms, so they need to get some practise in; greasing a bunch of these newer media chutes.
posted by bonobothegreat at 2:42 PM on April 15, 2013


But hey....if you do not get what the site is about, you need to study it out to find enlightenment.

Ah, perfect epistemic closure.
posted by Mental Wimp at 6:31 PM on April 15, 2013


Have We Moved Beyond Church And State? - "Top Publishers Discuss The Reality Of Native Advertising"


VICE, Fast Company, Atlantic Digital, Gawker, College Humor
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:34 PM on April 15, 2013


also, BuzzFeed launching longform ‘BuzzReads’ section and Lewis Lapham’s Antidote to the Age of BuzzFeed
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:35 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


BuzzFeed's launching a new music service called BuzzBallads
posted by hellojed at 11:22 PM on April 15, 2013


Buzzfeed had an a list of 35 Awkward Prom Photos from the Early 90s which feature a ton of photos from the 1980s including my own which when you click their source link goes straight to my flickr which is labeled "1987 Prom!" So, while I enjoy their lists of cats, I don't think I'd actually trust their DIYs or political advice.
posted by vespabelle at 7:41 AM on April 16, 2013


I need to check out more of the longform articles but the core business just kind of pisses me off philosophically and their site has always given me a sort of sketchy amateur spammy feeling, like an uncanny valley of simulated legitimacy. I ran into a financial services company website like that today, where I had a hard time deciding if the company was legit and had to look them up.

The only long BuzzFeed article I've read is this hit piece (IMHO, naturally) on Matthew Inman, the creator of TheOatmeal.com. This prompted a tit-for-tat response to a screen-cap of the article in its original state before certain glaring errors were removed, with the added benefit of not having to link directly to the article and increase pageviews. Neither party comes out of it looking like a rose to me, particularly in part due to some of the details in the reaction and the event that ostensibly provoked the article, but BuzzFeed / Stuef certainly failed much harder in their mission to produce a credible article and increase their brand's trust and inform its readers vs. TheOatmeal's less daunting, less SRSBZNZ mission to create content that makes a certain audience laugh at the content, promote it to friends, and buy merch and books.

I think it's a forgivable mistake for BuzzFeed if they measurably improve their editorial standards and crank up on, nay, innovate with technology! their fact-checking; I got the impression that the Oatmeal article was pushed through hastily and without sufficient scrutiny because the sensational nature of the article created a sense of urgency to strike fast and feed people some buzz, and subconsciously perhaps, in the culture there's a sense that the stakes are low, and as long as the article instigates a shit storm, any problems with the article can be ignored or corrected later when most have long forgotten about it, without the same sense of shame on retraction that you'd expect from a serious publication. Of course Gawker and the usual players had to get in on the act of determining victors and it was funny to see so many variations on "passionate scolding of pageview-optimized or crafted-for-an-intended-audience content" from the various players in those "spaces," all of whom HAD to respond with their own opinions on the evils of sensational eyeball-grabbery.

Is there anything legally stopping them from spinning off a more SRSBZNZ subsidiary and letting them build a brand of credibility? Either they can't, or they thought "BuzzFeed" was a better foundation for credibility than ground zero, or the whole model they've designed (including deceptive advertorials) demands total entanglement, or they're just dumb, or I'm dumb. Or maybe some other stuff.
posted by lordaych at 10:01 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Brain Pickings: Susan Sontag on Why Lists Appeal to Us, Plus Her Listed Likes and Dislikes
“The list is the origin of culture,” Umberto Eco famously proclaimed. Whether or not he was right about origin, the list is very much a currency of culture, today’s favorite attention-exploitation device in an information economy of countless listicles and innumerable numerical headlines. But what is it, exactly, that makes lists appeal to us so?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:06 AM on April 27, 2013


The New Republic: Eulogy for the Blog
In November 2011, Politico's most prominent blogger, Ben Smith, declared the advent of the "the post-blog blog." "The dusty old form of the personal political blog has required some updating. Twitter has replaced any individual blog as the place the political conversation plays out," he wrote. ... About a month later, though, he announced that he would become editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, a website where nearly every article is, in a sense, a blog post, but there are no actual blogs, and whose traffic model depends in no small part on discovery via social media. In other words, a post-blog blog.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:36 PM on April 29, 2013


Foreign Policy: 11 BuzzFeed Lists That Explain The World. Some are real, some are not.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:13 PM on April 30, 2013


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