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Posts Tagged ‘Ben Smith’

Michael Wolff Questions Ben Smith’s Uber Expose

USATodayPeterPanModifiedLogoCaught in the middle of Uber and BuzzFeed, Michael Wolff has opted to make the headline-grabbing story – and himself – the subject of today’s USA Today column.

Wolff writes that after hearing directly from Uber on Monday that BuzzFeed EIC Ben Smith was working on an article about the Friday “influential” held at Manhattan’s Waverly Inn, he contacted Smith (his +1 for the event) to note the fact that he should have told Smith it was off-the-record affair. While Wolff says he understands the tricky balance for a journalist of off-the-record vs. inflammatory remarks, he thinks ultimately that Smith did not paint an accurate picture:

Other than meeting at The Waverly dinner, I do not know the Uber people, except as an often grateful consumer of their services. I do know, however, that it was a convivial evening, and that Smith’s portrait is at odds with the event.

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BuzzFeed: We Don’t Do Clickbait

BuzzFeed has become popular via incoherent articles, vapid lists and heaps and heaps of cat gifs. It is the very definition of clickbait. The site’s editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, doesn’t see it that way. Smith says that BuzzFeed doesn’t do clickbait. Take a moment to soak that in.

The best part of Smith’s article isn’t that he had the nerve to even write such a piece, but that he tried to define clickbait articles in a way that excluded the site. According to Smith, clickbait articles are those with so-called “curiosity gap” headlines. You know the type: “This girl thought she lost her dog. You won’t believe what happens next.”

This is true. That is one type of clickbait. And that’s why Smith uses it as the prime example — so he can position BuzzFeed as “above” that type of thing:

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Journalists Under Threat in MO | Broadcasters Aim at Aereo

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Ferguson Police Threaten Journalists (FishbowlNY)
Police in Ferguson, Missouri, have once again clashed with reporters covering the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting. One cop, who was being filmed by local radio journalist Mustafa Hussein, threatened to shoot if Hussein didn’t stop. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes was also threatened by an officer who said “Get back! Or next time you’re gonna be the one maced.” Three other journalists – Sports Illustrated’s Robert Klemko, The Telegraph’s Rob Crilly and The Financial Times’ Neil Munshi — tweeted that they had been briefly arrested and then released. TVNewser Three more reporters were arrested in Ferguson overnight Sunday, with several more reporting being detained or threatened. FishbowlDC Last Wednesday, The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery and HuffPost’s Ryan Reilly were arrested inside a McDonald’s and later released. The same night, tear gas was shot at an Al Jazeera America crew in Ferguson. TVNewser As the National Guard arrived in Ferguson, where the overnight curfew has been lifted, the broadcast and cable networks had set plans to continue coverage of the escalating violence there Monday. Brian Williams anchored Nightly News from Ferguson Monday night, and correspondents Ron Allen and Mark Potter reported from Ferguson. ABC News had Steve Osunsami and Alex Perez, CBS News sent Mark Strassmann and Vladimir Duthiers, and MSNBC deployed Hayes and MSNBC.com reporters Trymaine Lee and Amanda Sakuma. CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon and Jake Tapper were also in Ferguson, as well as Fox News’ Mike Tobin and Shepard Smith. PRNewser In the wake of the violence, the town of Ferguson has hired a PR firm, Common Ground Public Relations, for communications help. According to a rep from Common Ground, the firm is only handling the deluge of media requests that the city has been getting since protests began about a week ago.

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BuzzFeed Attempts to Explain Why 4,000 Posts Were Deleted

BuzzFeedLogoJonah Peretti, BuzzFeed’s CEO, has a non-explanation explanation for why his site secretly deleted more than 4,000 posts. In an interview with Slate, Peretti admitted that “We probably could have communicated better, or handled it better,” but the reason they didn’t is because BuzzFeed used to be a tech company, and now it’s a media company.

Peretti said that BuzzFeed became a media company when it hired Ben Smith, and that the posts were deleted because they were “technically broken, not sourced to our current standards, not worth improving or saving because the content isn’t very good.”

Another way of saying this is “We deleted the posts once we realized someone would notice the rampant plagiarism that we used to become a popular site.” If you’re a media company, you don’t just get to delete articles whenever you want.

Why did it take until 2014 to get rid of these “broken” articles, when Smith was hired in 2011? Also, BuzzFeed just got $50 million from an investor who said “We think of BuzzFeed as more of a technology company.” Peretti might want to inform them that they’re a media company now. Or is his description of BuzzFeed dependent on who’s asking?

BuzzFeed Deleted More Than 4,000 Posts

BuzzFeedLogoThe editors of BuzzFeed have some (more) explaining to do. According to Gawker, more than 4,000 posts were deleted from the site in late April, which is — at the very least — odd. Especially for a site that keeps telling everyone how great it is.

As of now, BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, has refused to comment on the situation. He has however, tweeted a link to the BuzzFeed post “29 gloriously hilarious ways to use the poop emoji” multiple times this morning. Good to know Smith has his priorities in order.

Given that this comes after the site had to fire its viral politics editor Benny Johnson for 40 instances of plagiarism, one has to wonder: Were all those posts deleted because they also featured plagiarism?

In the past, BuzzFeed has said that posts are deleted from the site when they don’t meet the site’s editorial standards. Is that what happened here? Who knows! No one from BuzzFeed will explain themselves.

If you ask us, as time goes by, “BuzzFeed’s editorial standards” sounds more and more like an oxymoron.

BuzzFeed Fires Staffer for 40 Instances of Plagiarism

BuzzFeedLogoIt looks like the magic number was 40. BuzzFeed has decided to fire its viral politics editor, Benny Johnson, after finding that many instances of plagiarism in his work.

In a note to readers, BuzzFeed’s editor Ben Smith — who previously brushed off three examples of Johnson’s plagiarism — said the buck stopped with him and the site’s other editors:

We owe you, our readers, an apology. This plagiarism is a breach of our fundamental responsibility to be honest with you — in this case, about who wrote the words on our site. Plagiarism, much less copying unchecked facts from Wikipedia or other sources, is an act of disrespect to the reader. We are deeply embarrassed and sorry to have misled you. Benny’s editors — I, Katherine Miller, John Stanton, Shani Hilton, and McKay Coppins — bear real responsibility.

In a memo provided to FishbowlNY by BuzzFeed, Smith elaborated on the situation. You can read it below.

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BuzzFeed is Totally Cool with Plagiarism [Updated]

BuzzFeedLogoAccording to Gawker, BuzzFeed’s viral politics editor Benny Johnson was caught plagiarizing material three different times. To make matters worse, Johnson copied material from Yahoo! Answers of all places.

You would think this would warrant some type of disciplinary action, but nope! This is BuzzFeed. When your site is known for churning out shit content, it doesn’t really matter if some of it was stolen.

In an email to Gawker, Ben Smith — BuzzFeed’s editor — shrugged his shoulders at the incidents:

We’re grateful to @blippoblappo and @crushingbort for pointing out these serious failures to properly attribute two quotations and to credit a source in a third post. We’ve corrected the posts.

Benny Johnson is one of the web’s deeply original writers, as is clear from his body of work.

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A Consolidation of Brooklyn Hyper-Local

BensonhurstBeanBannerThis particular media merger did not exactly make headlines. But you can bet any and all interested in the future of hyper-local will be paying close attention.

From metropolitan news reporter Vivian Yee‘s article in the New York Times:

Last week, [Ned] Berke merged Sheepshead Bites and its sister site, Bensonhurst Bean, into Corner Media, a network of neighborhood blogs run by Liena Zagare that will now reach a combined 250,000 readers every month. Zagare and Berke, who is a senior editor as well as an associate publisher of the network, say their approach — intensely local, intimate and community-based, with a heart — is the future of hyper-local journalism, a business that industry watchers have long forecast as the future of journalism itself.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: ABC News, CPI Spar | FNC to Debut Daytime Ensemble | Discovery Drops U.K. Bid

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ABC News Asking Center for Public Integrity to Share Pulitzer Prize (TVNewser)
ABC News is calling on the Center for Public Integrity to share its Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism, awarded to CPI’s Chris Hamby, taking issue with CPI’s Pulitzer submission that depicts ABC News as a minor partner in a year-long coal-mining industry investigation instead of equal partners. HuffPost Network president Ben Sherwood sent a four-page letter to CPI’s executive director Bill Buzenberg affirming that ABC News was CPI’s partner in the investigation. He argued that reporters Brian Ross and Matthew Mosk made “significant contributions” without which CPI would not have won the Pulitzer. He added that while the prizes are only awarded to print organizations, he hoped the Pulitzer committee would recognize Ross and Mosk. Mediaite In the letter, Sherwood said Buzenberg “omitted the names of ABC News reporters and sought to parse and diminish their contributions, even though their bylines appropriately appear on four of the eight articles submitted by the Center to the committee.” Poynter In response, Buzenberg provided a point-by-point rebuttal saying CPI reporter Chris Hamby was the engine behind the story for months before ABC entered the investigation and in long stretches when ABC was working on other things. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media CPI and ABC News have shared recognition for the black lung benefits story in the past. In March, the Harvard Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting was awarded to Chris Hamby, Ronnie Greene, Jim Morris and Chris Zubak-Skees of CPI and Matthew Mosk, Brian Ross and Rhonda Schwartz of ABC News. Next month, the White House Correspondents’ Association will honor “The Center for Public Integrity, in partnership with ABC News.” On Wednesday, they received an award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Television news organizations are excluded from the Pulitzer Prizes, which honor newspaper and digital reporting.

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BuzzFeed Australia Launches

SimonCrerarPicWhen BuzzFeed first formalized its plans to expand past the UK and into the glorious Down Under, EIC Ben Smith suggested that “Australia — with its humor and beauty and sense of the absurd and love of the social web — is basically BuzzFeed Nation already.” Probably true; and now that January 31 has rolled around over the distant international horizon, we can all start determining if Smith was correct with his optimistic assessment.

At the helm of BuzzFeed Australia is Simon Crerar (pictured), formerly visual story director for News Corp Australia. Together with staff writer Jenna Guillaume, he curates the site’s Twitter feed – @BuzzFeedOz - and the pair have been teasing some early looks at content.

On the cheeky media coverage front, one BuzzFeed AU item has seven suggestions as to how national TV network ABC can become more favorably aligned with the country that it serves. Another article runs down “21 Reasons Karl Stefanovic is the Greatest Australian Journalist of All Time.” Reasons include:

Incredible rapport with his [Nine Network Today show] co-anchors…

No matter how challenging, his coverage is always rousing…

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