Let’s get to a meaty reason—a reason BuzzFeed and Ben Smith have zero interest in discussing. Because BuzzFeed had grown so big so fast, they didn’t want some loose cannon highlighting the shitty ads of potential or current big name advertisers. Yeah, that’s a pretty good reason to fire me.
Being a visionary, I brought this point up in my initial interview with Ben Smith. He said, more or less, “You don’t worry about that, that’s my problem.” Boy oh boy did it become his problem.
Ben Smith made me delete a post I did on Axe Body Spray’s ads, titled, “The Objectification Of Women By Axe Continues Unabated in 2013” (it was initially called something to the effect of “Axe Body Spray Continues its Contribution to Rape Culture,” but I quickly softened it). Get this: he made me delete it one month after it was posted, due to apparent pressure from Axe’s owner Unilever. How that’s for editorial integrity? Ben Smith also questioned other posts I did knocking major advertisers’ ads (he kept repeating the phrase “punching down”), including the pathetically pandering, irresponsible Nike “Fat Boy” commercial.
I of course understand that websites like BuzzFeed need lots of advertising dollars to operate, and that no media outlets—including the one you’re reading this on—are immune to advertiser pressure. I understand that my posts may have pissed advertisers off. I also understand—very clearly—the job I was hired to do because I invented it. I had a longstanding blog that clearly outlined what BuzzFeed was getting into. Turns out Ben Smith didn’t want what he asked for, and I guess I was too gullible to think it could be any other way.
Mark “Copyranter” Duffy on how the no-haterz policy plays out IRL at Buzzfeed, especially when it comes to any kind of criticism of things that need to be criticized just in case they one day want to pay BuzzFeed to write criticize-able “native advertising.”
I DIDN’T MAKE THIS LIST http://t.co/DaGKzuCkbN— Natasha VC (@natashavc) December 21, 2013
Forgive the light therapy I’m about to indulge in here but I’ve stood by and fav’d many of your spats and breakdowns so here we go!— Natasha VC (@natashavc) December 21, 2013
I wouldn’t be as peeve-y with @BuzzFeed for leaving my work off their Favorite Features list (LOL) if they would pay me the 4k they owe me.— Natasha VC (@natashavc) December 21, 2013
24 Ways to Frustrate, Demoralize, and Alienate freelancers.— Natasha VC (@natashavc) December 21, 2013
I was originally contracted to write NINE stories a MONTH for BuzzFeed a ridiculous quota I accepted to achieve stable income.— Natasha VC (@natashavc) December 21, 2013
Multiple members of the editorial TEAM OF NO H8ters at BuzzFeed have sent emails where they curse at me like they are in a Mamet play. LOL— Natasha VC (@natashavc) December 21, 2013
Was also asked by BuzzFeed not to tweet about public figures, even I’m not of staff, because it puts them in an ‘awkward position’— Natasha VC (@natashavc) December 21, 2013
Was told if I wanted to be considered for a full time position at BuzzFeed I should not tweet mean things about Huma Abedin. Fuck Huma, btw.— Natasha VC (@natashavc) December 21, 2013
It was absolutely embarrassing to share a byline on a site that would publish Egypt as Explained through Jurassic Park GIFs . Grotesque.— Natasha VC (@natashavc) December 21, 2013
Eventually they cut my quota and cut my pay then sent me a ‘what the fuck do you think you’re doing email’ when I freelanced other places— Natasha VC (@natashavc) December 21, 2013
Would like respect for my work / my sources. Reimbursed for going to Brazil and bringing back a good story, even if it didn’t make the list.— Natasha VC (@natashavc) December 21, 2013
@agolis It’s more the 4k owed me. Can leave me off all listicles for some phat cash— Natasha VC (@natashavc) December 21, 2013
Final thought here, gang. Most other editors I’ve worked with find me easy and delightful AND I come cheap. Lean in, everyone!— Natasha VC (@natashavc) December 21, 2013
@natashavc I found most (not all) of BuzzFeed’s editors to be prima donna hacks who wouldn’t know a good story if it shit in their mouths.— Mark Duffy (@copyranter) December 21, 2013
Virality mills are ultimately reliant on ever-increasing page views to deliver impressions to advertisers and are prey to the same pitfalls as traditional publishers seeking inorganic audience growth. Furthermore, virality mills as a business model are no different from any publisher embracing viral content marketing for audience development – write with the singular goal of widespread exposure with complete disregard for a search acquisition strategy.
Just look at the language used by virality mills when talking about how efficient they are at what they do to see this in action. They mention creativity without referencing utility, volume of engagement without discussing the value of that engagement (intent), and exposure without any contextual relevancy If you sincerely believe that a million people engaging with a post about hybrid animals? is a better spend than advertising against a Jalopnik car review — I can’t help but think you have more money than sense. Moreover, if you think that advertising against the broad demographic base of a virality mill (20-30, American) is a better use of your budget versus the extremely customizable ad platforms of Facebook and Google, you’re in the wrong business entirely.
Muhammad Saleem for Venturebeat on why even advertisers are getting sucked by BuzzFeed.
"Good news, it’s working! And it’s even better than actually solving problems!" A TRIPTYCH
Really meaningful content… that other people created and we monetized by selling your email address and interests to data brokers and marketers.
- What is the origin and purpose of the wall between regular content and advertising? What challenges do publishers face in maintaining that wall in digital media, including mobile?
- In what ways are paid messages integrated into — or presented as — regular content? Does it look different within mobile apps or on smart phones?
- What business models support the monetization and display of native or integrated ads? Who controls how these ads are served up for consumers?
- How can ads effectively be differentiated from regular content? Are there labels or visual cues that would work? What about when paid messages are aggregated — for example, in search results — or re-transmitted through social media?
- What does research show about how consumers notice and understand paid messages that are integrated into, or presented as, news, entertainment, or other content? Does it matter how consumers seek out, receive, and view content online or in mobile apps? Does that affect if they notice and understand these messages as paid content?
The FTC might as well have just called this hearing, “Hey, we noticed BuzzFeed’s business model sort of relies on people not knowing what is advertising and, um, you know, there are like rules about that so we should probably look into it. Oh and also that Scientology thing in The Atlantic was totally fucked.”
But if you have ideas about what in particular sucks about it, you can submit a comment for the feds to read.
Note to journalism types: If you reduce a life-and-death geopolitical situation to funny GIFs, you are morally lost. http://t.co/EPSXLLwuIJ— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) September 11, 2013
These people writing juvenile clickbait aren’t the “next generation” of journalism - they’re the last generation of it.— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) September 11, 2013
I don’t care who’s paying for this or why, but if your education or upbringing didn’t give you a sense of gravitas about war, go away.— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) September 11, 2013
Also on notice: Anybody writing about geopolitics on a fourth-grade level: “OMG, like, why haven’t we fixed Syria yet?” Disappear.— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) September 11, 2013
How about this: You can plug your funny cat GIFs about war while you sit in downtown Aleppo, and people are killed in front of you. Deal?— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) September 11, 2013
You watch a mother mourn her mutilated, dead child two feet from you and then you compare the situation to an MTV reality show. OK?— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) September 11, 2013
Be a psychopath in person. But don’t sit in a coffee shop and pretend to be a serious commentator on world affairs with this sewage.— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) September 11, 2013
You want a “GIF” that explains war? Picasso’s “Guernica” about the wanton bombing of civilians. http://t.co/gqJzzNNhR5— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) September 11, 2013
Here’s the actual Guernica, the horror of war http://t.co/fT84QuhiMb - War is not a topic of amusement or sarcasm or wit. It’s horror.2— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) September 11, 2013
On behalf of every serious mind I know, I’m telling these clickbait vermin - you are off the intellectual roll call forever.— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) September 11, 2013
I don’t care who is paying you or why. You are polluting the culture with the most cynical, vicious garbage in history. Fuck you.— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) September 11, 2013
My wife was a physician for the Veterans Administration for years. How about a funny GIF series of crying 65 year old veterans?— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) September 11, 2013
We’ll do a GIF series of men in tears about the artillery salvos they ordered on civilians - and how they had to count the bodies.— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) September 11, 2013
You want a series of GIFs that explains a military situation? Look up the birth defects of the children born in Fallujah after “the surge.”— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) September 11, 2013
PS. Don’t follow me or click on my website. I’m not ranting for “traffic.” I don’t want “clicks.” I want sanity and civilization.— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) September 11, 2013
I want a country that takes war seriously & follows the rule of law. Please give me no publicity from this. Take my name off it if you want.— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) September 11, 2013
But for the love of all that is holy, come to your senses. This culture is your legacy. It is what you leave to your children. Improve it.— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) September 11, 2013
What Buzzfeed is like.
And also that the restaurant got paid by the gross sauce company to serve it to you, but you still had to pay the bill.
Can’t say I didn’t try.
They would if someone sponsored a listicle about it, though.
BuzzFeed goes hard against rumors that Andrew Kaczynski had 90,000 instead of 81,000 Twitter followers when he Tweeted false info about Sunil Tripathi and the Boston Marathon
— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen)
1. “No haters” was not company policy in 2007.
2. I took a screenshot juuuust in case they decide to take down this page.
3. Who do you think won that iPod Touch?
So what you’re saying is that Apple sponsored a native ad for its iPod Touch launch, and they’re still reaping the rewards? Sweet. This is so going in their advertisers’ presentation.