70 Million Reasons BuzzFeed Won’t Go Public

Buzzfeed’s long trumpeted IPO looks increasingly unlikely after sources inside the company told the Wall Street Journal it could miss its revenue target by 15-20%. The site was supposed to bring in $350 million this year, paving the way for a 2018 floatation. Actual revenue is expected to be $70 million short of that target…

The news, which emerged overnight in the US, is a blow to Buzzfeed staff, many of whom joined after being spun the line that they would be in for a major pay day during the eventual IPO. It follows mounting losses of over £3.5 million for Buzzfeed UK in 2016. Meanwhile WSJ says Vice News is also set to miss its revenue target and Mashable is selling for a quarter of what it was worth just last year. Trouble ahead for new media…

Mounting Buzzfeed Losses as Staff Salaries Average £60,000

The bottom line for Buzzfeed in 2016 is that it lost £3,543,554, which when added to the rolled up losses since 2013 means some £12,289,579 has been sunk into the venture so far. When it launched Buzzfeed derided display advertising as outdated and instead offered brands sponsored advertorial content. The search for revenue means you now see traditional display adverts on their homepage. The UK operation is small change for the parent company which is putting hundreds of millions of dollars into video in the hope that they will be able to divert TV advertising revenue into digital video revenue. This is the big bet for the many media ventures following the shining path of Vice News….

Rumours from inside the organisation that management consultants have been sent in are worrisome for the 200 odd Buzzfeed staff on – the filed accounts reveal – generous average packages of some £60,000. On the positive side Buzzfeed doubled their revenue last year to over £20 million. If they can do that again this year they will be extremely profitable…

Remoaners Lose as Voters Strongly Back ‘Hard’ Brexit

Remoaners have lost their battle to derail Brexit as the public overwhelmingly backs a ‘hard’ exit from the EU. A major new study from the LSE and Oxford University shows even remain voters now generally reject the ‘soft’ Brexit policies advocated by the remoan lobby. The findings refute the often-repeated claim that Britain is deeply divided over Brexit: in reality, both leavers and remainers are broadly united behind a ‘hard’ Brexit on almost every major issue. The study, seen by BuzzFeed, shows:

  • 67% of people surveyed prefer the so-called “no deal” outcome to a ‘soft’ Brexit
  • 68% of people surveyed would choose a ‘hard’ Brexit over a ‘soft’ Brexit

Remain voters tend to support so-called ‘hard’ Brexit positions on most major negotiation points:

  • The majority of remain voters oppose the continuation of free movement. Instead, they tend to back ‘some’ or ‘full’ control over UK borders, even if that means lower EU immigration levels than now;
  • Remain voters do not want the UK to be subject to ‘all EU laws and all ECJ decisions’;
  • Remain voters tend to support paying a smaller rather than larger divorce bill to the EU, and would support paying no bill at all;
  • Remain voters do not support continuing massive payments to the EU;
  • Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru, and Lib Dem voters only marginally preferring a ‘soft’ Brexit to a ‘no deal’ outcome (by around 60/40).

Professor Sara Hobolt of the LSE said:

“Overall… there is on aggregate higher levels of support for outcomes that resemble the ‘hard Brexit’ position put forward by the government. Remain voters are willing to acknowledge that there are key negotiation outcomes – e.g. limits to freedom of movement – that they may not like, but that these outcomes still respect the referendum vote and are therefore legitimate. In other words, Remain voters concede that the features that lead them to prefer a particular negotiation outcome do not, in fact, respect the referendum.”

The study will be seen as a bodyblow to the metropolitan remoan class whose views are evidently not shared by the country as a whole. This exposes die-hard remainers as having the extreme position relative to the ordinary population. In all but 11 of 42 possible Brexit scenarios presented to the 3,293 participants, remain and leave voters were within five percentage points of one another. Conclusive proof that the public backs Brexit…

Stephen Kinnock’s Pass Rant Fails

BuzzFeed ran a piece this morning quoting remain campaigner Stephen Kinnock, who was very upset about the fact that BrexitCentral has a parliamentary pass. The briefest glance at Kinnock’s own pass allocations shows he’s a fine one to talk. Forget journalists – the Aberavon MP inexplicably dished out a pass to Dennis Marcus, director of “strategy and communications” company Ubuntu London. The firm’s website boasts about Dennis’s work:

“Always having a lot of both to offer, he helps you find your most powerful stories, be they in the form of strategy (as he has done for global businesses and major international political campaigns), speeches (for former Heads of Government and leading business executives), copywriting (for businesses and thought leaders) or scripts (for production companies and a former Prime Minister).”

And thanks to Stephen, he enjoys unlimited access to Parliament. Pass fail!

Buzzfeed Accuse Corbyn of Lying

Team Corbyn have banned Buzzfeed from covering the rest of Labour’s election campaign after taking exception to yesterday’s interview with the dear leader. Corbyn denied to the BBC that he told Buzzfeed he would stay on regardless of the election result. Buzzfeed has released an audio recording and transcript of the interview, essentially accusing Corbyn of lying to Laura Kuenssberg:

Buzzfeed: “Forgive me for asking this, I know you’re in to win it. But if it goes wrong, if for whatever reason in a month’s time you don’t get to walk into Downing Street, is this the one shot that people have to vote for Jeremy Corbyn?”

Corbyn: “I was elected leader of this party and I’ll stay leader of this party.”

Buzzfeed: “So you’re going to stay leader of this party, no matter what happens?”

Corbyn: “I’m carrying on.”

Not the sharpest media strategy from Team Jez – the interview was painstakingly fair, better coverage than Corbyn would get anywhere else, and Buzzfeed readers are his target audience. Well done Corbynistas! 

Buzzfeed Go to Court to Demand Journalist Reveals Communications With Sources

Buzzfeed has gone to court in the US to attempt to force the editor of British media trade website Press Gazette to reveal his journalistic sources. A motion filed by Buzzfeed in a New York court seeks to compel Press Gazette’s editor, Dominic Ponsford, to provide material in relation to this article he published in April 2015, a report about a Buzzfeed investigation doing in one of its rivals. Buzzfeed’s court application seeks to force Ponsford to reveal:

  • The research and production of the the 24 April Press Gazette report
  • Communications prior and post publication of the article between Press Gazette and the alleged source

Ponsford says:

“Why is Buzzfeed interested in my emails and any other documents I may hold? As a journalistic organisation does it not understand the dangerous ethical territory it is entering here?”

Remarkable behaviour for a news organisation employing journalists. What are Buzzfeed thinking?

Buzzfood: Quarter of Buzzfeed UK’s Most Read Stories Are About Food, None About Politics

This is what happens when algorithms decide your news agenda…

BuzzFood

Buzzfeed’s top trending stories feel a bit ‘samey’, formulaicly bland with a made-on-a-production line ‘taste’. These are from their UK top trending 20 at the time of going to pixel. Is it Guido or are they running out of ideas?

The headlines will no doubt have been run through a data driven algorithm and optimised to death for SEO and clickbait performance. Are they actually native advertising? (Buzzfeed has got into trouble for running unflagged adverts as editorial in the past.) Pizza, Nandos, Subway, McDonalds – Guido just put those words in the text to see if we too get a load of trash traffic. Does Chipotle even have a restaurant open in the UK?

UPDATE: Chipotle apparently does have restaurants in the UK and this just in at 5:

CNN Dumps on Buzzfeed

CNN has condemned Buzzfeed for publishing the unverified Trump dossier and spoiling their more careful reporting of allegations against the President-Elect:

“CNN’s decision to publish carefully sourced reporting about the operations of our government is vastly different than Buzzfeed’s decision to publish unsubstantiated memos. The Trump team knows this. They are using Buzzfeed’s decision to deflect from CNN’s reporting, which has been matched by the other major news organizations.

We are fully confident in our reporting. It represents the core of what the First Amendment protects, informing the people of the inner workings of their government; in this case, briefing materials prepared for President Obama and President-elect Trump last week.

We made it clear that we were not publishing any of the details of the 35-page document because we have not corroborated the report’s allegations. Given that members of the Trump transition team have so vocally criticized our reporting, we encourage them to identify, specifically, what they believe to be inaccurate.”

Big fight between two liberal media outlets, even more pressure on Buzzfeed’s decision to publish now…

UPDATE:

Trump: BuzzFeed is a Failing Pile of Garbage

The President-Elect says BuzzFeed “is a failing pile of garbage”, then refuses to take a question from CNN because: “You are fake news.”

And responds to the Beeb: “BBC? That’s another beauty.”

BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief “Doubts the Allegations”

BuzzFeed have stuck their neck out publishing what they admit are unverified allegations about Trump in Russia. Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith emailed staff to explain this extra-ordinary departure from the usual journalistic norms:

From: Ben Smith

As you have probably seen. this evening we published a secret dossier making explosive and unverified allegations about Donald Trump and Russia. I wanted to briefly explain to you how we made the decision to publish it.

We published the dossier, which Ken Bensinger obtained through his characteristically ferocious reporting, so that, as we wrote, “Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the US government.”

Our presumption is to be transparent in our journalism and to share what we have with our readers. We have always erred on the side of publishing. In this case, the document was in wide circulation at the highest levels of American government and media. It seems to lie behind a set of vague allegations from the Senate Majority Leader to the director of the FBI and a report that intelligence agencies have delivered to the president and president-elect.

As we noted in our story, there is serious reason to doubt the allegations. We have been chasing specific claims in this document for weeks, and will continue to.

Publishing this document was not an easy or simple call, and people of good will may disagree with our choice. But publishing this dossier reflects how we see the job of reporters in 2017.

Ben

Ben actually disses his own story, which they have been unable to stand up. Would the New York Times have published this – no. Would Guido have published it? Possibly, if we thought the source was credible enough. Imagine if we published a story about a union leader consorting with a prostitute based on widely circulating rumours and off the record briefings, naming no names and getting no affidavits or pictures. Would that be credible?

BuzzFeed Outraged Over Telegraph’s Brexit Listicle

BuzzFeed have jumped on the outrage bus and attacked the Telegraph for naming the 89 MPs who voted against Article 50. Under the headline “The Telegraph Listed 89 Anti-Brexit MPs And People Are Not Impressed”, BuzzFeed says it is irresponsible to shame MPs in this way, suggesting it could inspire reprisals. Just like BuzzFeed did with its story “These Are The MPs Who Voted Against Accepting Child Refugees From Europe”. And its story “Here Are The Labour MPs Refusing To Serve In Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet”. According to BuzzFeed, lists naming and shaming MPs are irresponsible when it’s about Brexit but not when it’s a cause that suits their own right-on editorial values…

Owen Smith v Buzzfeed

Shots fired from one time Labour leadership candidate Owen Smith at the occasionally Corbyn-sympathetic Buzzfeed this morning:

owen-smith-2

Buzzfeed’s political editor hits back:

jim

Other Buzzfeed staff are responding by tweeting their entire back catalogue of negative stories about Smith:

alan1

To be fair to Buzzfeed, they command more respect in Westminster than Owen Smith…

Buzzfeed Books Profit in UK, Making Losses in Brazil, Spain & Japan

buzzfeed

Guido understands that Buzzfeed UK has booked a “middling six-figure profit”, is breaking even in Germany and making six-figure losses in Brazil, France and Spain. Congratulations…

Guardian Blasts Own Editors For Traingate Blunder, BuzzFeed Turned Story Down

train

An internal Guardian investigation has blasted the paper’s editors for publishing the original Traingate story by a freelance journalist who turned out to be a Trot. The Guardian readers’ editor rubbishes the article as “a kind of gonzo news release by two Corbyn supporters”, concluding that the paper “misled” its readers and that editors’ “pre-publication checks and balances failed”. Turns out the freelance filmmaker who shot the pictures of the Labour leader sitting on the floor was being paid by the Jeremy For Leader campaign. The Trotskyite freelance journalist who wrote the story wasn’t even on the train. The authors first pitched their pro-Jez propaganda to BuzzFeed, who embarrassingly for the Guardian smelled a rat and turned it down. Standards at Kings Place were alas significantly lower…

OMG! Cameron Meets Buzzfeed: “You’ve F**ked Every F**king Thing Up”

And she was a Remainer. WTF?

5 Times BuzzFeed Featured Jack Wills

BUZZFEED jack wills

The federasts at BuzzFeed love to trumpet their trendy appeal to a higher ethical code. Even in the age of aggressive native marketing and advertorials, BuzzFeed has promised to never run stories about ads it’s being paid for:

“Appreciation buzz posts celebrating a fun or cool ad are fine, as are posts critical of ads — but that content should not be about ads BuzzFeed’s business side has created.”

That’s all well and good, especially as doing so could be in breach of EU directive 2005/29/EC, which places a firm ban on “Using editorial content in the media to promote a product where a trader has paid for the promotion without making that clear in the content” – in other words, advertorials which don’t carry a “sponsored” or “advert” heading.

BuzzFeed has so far run five stories featuring the Jack Wills brand, purely as an act of “celebrating a fun or cool ad”. Here are our fave snaps from them:

1. Those totes-beaut hoodies.

jack wills hoody

2. That fetch Jack Wills in Cheshire

cheshire jack wills

3. …and that even fetcher one in Surrey.

jack wills surrey

4. Got to love those JW scents.

jack wills spray

5. And last but not least, all those steamy Jack Wills models wearing Jack Wills clothes.

BUZZFEED jack wills models

After asking BuzzFeed a spokesman was quick to tell Guido there was no commercial relationship between the trendy site and clothing company – after all, they’ve fallen foul of native advertising laws before on articles by “Brand Publishers”. You won’t believe what BuzzFeed’s shareholders must think about running (unpaid?) advertorials…

UPDATE: UK editor Janine Gibson tweets in response ‘In the words of Tina Fey: “Nope. Not product placement. That’s just the kind of revenue creating geniuses we are.”‘

Profitless Buzzfeed Misses Revenue Target

omg-buzzfeed

The Financial Times reports that Buzzfeed fell short of its 2015 revenue target by 30% and has slashed its 2016 target by 50%. It took Guido 4 years to make a profit. No one ever said it was easy, overnight success generally takes years. Buzzfeed, the cool new kid on the block, has been going 9 years without making a profit. Nine years…

During those 9 years it has burned through hundreds of millions of dollars without paying investors a cent back. Smart people buy into the Buzzfeed concept, that it can reach millenials on their phones and on social networks with viral content as well as disguised advertising in the form of snarky content. They also have a conventional website famous for cat videos and lists. To make advertisers feel better about the online context of their paid content, Buzzfeed has branched out into serious content from serious journalists, with serious investigations and even some politics. It gives the Buzzfeed brand more journalistic credibility. Which goes comparatively unread.

Business Insider, Huffington Post and Vice News are all engaged in an online land grab, promising investors they will grab the global audience first and make profits later. Business Insider sold to Axel Springer for a cool $442 million last year. Outside the US it was not making a profit – though Insiders told Guido they were no longer losing money in London. Insider has a model that makes sense, aiming at time-pressed people interested in business. HuffPo aims to maximise traffic through aggregation and SEO optimisation, selling conventional display advertising – the AOL parent has a massive digital advertising sales operation. Vice is apparently to the millenial generation what MTV was to their parents and appears to be making money hand over fist.

The risk for Buzzfeed investors is that people no longer want the funny GIFs once they graduate, get a job and get busy. This leaves them with teenage “trash-traffic” of appeal only to generic advertisers who won’t pay high prices. Advertisers also worry, now that the novelty has worn off, that the advertorials don’t work or worse still, don’t fit their advertising goals. 

Buzzfeed Offers Free Beer To “Muslim Issues” Reporter

buzzfeed

Buzzfeed UK are taking on a new reporter with a “special interest in Muslim issues”, who must be fluent in either Bengali, Urdu, or Arabic and have a “strong list of contacts and sources within the Muslim community”. Perks of the job? They’re offering the successful candidate free beer once a month…

No shortage of beer-loving Arabic, Bengali and Urdu speakers who could apply…

British Journalism Awards Bunfight! Speccie v Newsnight / Buzzfeed

yentob

It wouldn’t be the British Journalism Awards without a good old barney about the nominations. Newsnight and Buzzfeed are jointly nominated for Investigation of the Year for the Kids Co scandal – a story on which they did a lot of good follow-up work but was broken by Miles Goslett in the Speccie.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Jo Swinson on Chris Rennard…

“Vince — and Tim before him — have repeatedly, publicly said Rennard is not welcome anywhere near their frontbench team, even as an adviser. I remain deeply frustrated that he was not expelled from the party through its disciplinary process. It just feels wrong, and I do not want Lord Rennard to continue as a member of the party. As far as I am concerned, he is not welcome.”

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