These days, it’s hard to go a single day without seeing someone post the results of their latest BuzzFeed quiz. Maybe you’ve tried a quiz or two yourself. Maybe you’ve completed every quiz out there or maybe you’ve never even typed the website into your search bar.
It’s easy to fall into these simple clickbait-style titles. Who doesn’t want to know what character from the beloved 90s sitcom “Saved By The Bell” they relate to the most? It can be fun and engaging for anyone. However, a problem arises when BuzzFeed includes a new tab on their website – News.
Is the same website that asks “Which ‘Zoey 101’ Guy is Your Soulmate?” qualified to tell us that a capital murder suspect is now in police custody? Is it strange that we can learn how “fine AF” Kel Mitchell is and how Oliver Sacks redefined autism on the same front page?
The answer is yes. It is strange. Entertainment should be kept separate from news and vice-versa. However, that is not always the case.
BuzzFeed isn’t the only media enterprise to use people’s short attention spans to their advantage. In fact, while researching BuzzFeed, several ads popped up showing me “What Your House Would Look Like If You Traveled the World.” BuzzFeed mixing entertainment with news is just a small illustration of a larger problem in popular media: picking and choosing news stories that will sell to audiences rather than inform them.
Now, of course Fox News isn’t asking us “Who Said What: The Pope vs. Lord Voldemort?” or “How Experienced In Pooping Are You?” (I am apparently mildly experienced in pooping). But then again, major news networks have also been caught plenty of times in their own web of lies.
So what qualifies them over BuzzFeed to report news? The qualifier for becoming a reliable news network seems to be knowing how to bring in the ratings and BuzzFeed is no stranger to good ratings.
BuzzFeed has an estimated worth of $1.5 billion and has deals with several other media companies, including NBC Universal, which just invested $200 million into BuzzFeed with the hopes of better reaching the millennial community. So don’t be surprised if you see a BuzzFeed reporter in the press box of the next Olympic Games.
The overall lesson here is that the media reports what earns them money. That’s been common knowledge for some time now, but with the introduction of BuzzFeed News, it certainly has gotten more interesting.