Why I Hate Buzzfeed - A Rant on Page-View Journalism
Many of us rely on our Facebook feeds for information and news – and every week without fail I see at least two or three Buzzfeed articles pop up on Facebook. As a student journalist and as a somewhat intellectual individual, here’s all the reasons why I hate Buzzfeed, and why you as a human being with a brain should too.
I despise idiotic clickbait.
Reading through the headlines and subheaders on the BuzzFeed homepage, I can almost feel my IQ points dropping.
“14 Places You Have To Poop At Before You Die.” “This Supercut Of Animals Yawning Might Kill You With Cuteness.” “4 Famous People Amanda Bynes Has Called Ugly.”
Here’s a headline for you, BuzzFeed – “14 Reasons Why No One Cares About Your Imbecilic ‘Articles.”
These are headlines designed to fuel page-view journalism, something we call clickbait. They want you to click on the link so they can waste more of your time and thus get money from their advertisers and sponsors. Sure, any online news org has ads to support the running of their site and paying their staff, but BuzzFeed is designed around this concept instead of being forced to rely on it as many news orgs are. As such, BuzzFeed keeps your attention with idiotic clickbait that serves no edifying aim. It’s not journalism, it’s not purposeful, and it’s just plain stupid.
Where’s the writing?
There’s a reason why I’m studying Journalism in school – writing articles is what I love to do and I want to learn how to become a pro and eventually write for a prestigious news organization, doling out the latest and greatest news in a field I love. Now take those aspirations, flip them around, and you have BuzzFeed.
BuzzFeed’s so-called articles oftentimes contain little to no writing and are just listicles with cute images. On BuzzFeed’s front page currently is an article objectifying Kate Upton – “Kate Upton Topless On a Horse – what more could you ask for?” And that’s all that’s written – the headline and subheader, the rest of the article is a video, an image, and a .gif of Kate Upton topless on a horse. Or how about the articles compiled full of “40 Cutest Animal Gifs You Have To See Before You Die” which have 40 animal .gifs and no writing? Sometimes, they even screenshot other sites, such as Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, and post those images as stories.
Okay, here’s a piece with some writing – the “Top 10 Reasons Atheists Suck” by the BuzzFeed founder and CEO himself that is either very poorly done satire or extremely offensive discrimination against a subgroup of people?
When did this become accepted as “articles”?
As a journalist, I find it incredibly infuriating that BuzzFeed articles are shared as though they’re so creative when all they are are compilations of other people’s work. As Something Awful writer Jon Hendren told The Daily Dot, “It’s not writing, and it’s not journalism, to put 18 GIFs into a list and publish it.”
Reposting is stealing.
As I discussed in my article on Tumblr speak, reposting, or using someone else’s images as your own new post just so you get the credit, is considered a very bad move. This is also exactly what BuzzFeed does with all of its multimedia articles that use compilations of clever, cute and funny .gifs and .jpegs to tell their stories.
Sure, they might credit the original poster in small 8-point print below each image, but reposting without first attaining permission is still stealing. No, it’s not “flattering” to use someone else’s photos or artwork or .gifs (contrary to the novice belief, .gifs are really hard to make and stealing them is extremely insulting), it’s stealing. As we all know, stealing has real-world implications, as proven in an ongoing lawsuit with a professional photographer suing BuzzFeed for 3.6 million over copyright infringement.
Fact-checking, what fact-checking?
Anyone can post to BuzzFeed; what keeps BuzzFeed thriving in fact is this feature. Anybody with an inflated ego and some understanding of how the “right-click-save-as-repost” features work can contribute to BuzzFeed. What really irks me about this is that there seems to be no fact-checking on those few pieces that actually have words in them.
What is fact-checking? It’s only the most important part about being a journalist. It’s making sure that all your statements in stories are accurate and true, because there are readers out there who are dependent on your information and misleading them in the position of a journalist can lead to serious consequences.
Cue this BuzzFeed post which accuses Matthew Inman, creator of popular webcomic The Oatmeal, of a great many things on circumstantial or no evidence, all of which Inman then shot down on his site. A+ example of sensationalist, poorly-researched defamatory “journalism.”
All in all, those are several reasons why I hate BuzzFeed and grit my teeth as I scroll past every “article” of photos claiming to “restore your faith in humanity” wildly shared by my friends as though it were the best thing since sliced bread.
How do you feel about BuzzFeed and page-view journalism? Let us know in the comments below.
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