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Why are digital newsrooms unionizing now? “This generation is tired of hearing that this industry requires martyrdom”
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Sept. 23, 2015, 12:18 p.m.
Audience & Social
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Justin Ellis   |   September 23, 2015

It’s not unusual to see BuzzFeed on a hiring spree, especially since the company seems to be capable of raising limitless amounts of money lately.

But the newest job postings show that BuzzFeed wants to test the waters of local news coverage, at least in the United Kingdom. The company is hiring 14 new positions, four that will go to “regional beat reporters.” From the job description:

We’re looking for reporters based in the north of England, Scotland and Wales, who have experience working on hard-hitting news stories and features that pop. They should have ideas about what BuzzFeed UK’s regional coverage should look like and where we should be reporting from. She or he also needs to be interested in stories that aren’t just interesting — they want to produce stories that are powerful, troublemaking, and well-reported; exactly as short as they can possibly be; timely and accurate.

In the last six months, BuzzFeed U.K. has slowly added to its ranks investigative reporters and top editors, including former Guardian editor Janine Gibson, who became editor-in-chief of the operation in June. Now she’ll oversee a move that puts BuzzFeed not only in competition with national papers and websites, but also local publishers in the north.

Every company with some funding, ambition, and an atlas has looked abroad to expand in places like the U.K., India, Africa, and Australia. But the work of introducing an existing media company into a new country can prove tricky. The job isn’t necessarily replication of the original franchise, but adaptation.

As BuzzFeed has developed its strategy for the London office, the approach has focused on granular reporting on elections and politics as well as developing reusable tech

“We’re not overly focused on building fancy show-off infographics or interactives. We feel that’s not an area where we want to compete. Where we want to compete is getting on the road and getting small scoops, really,” BuzzFeed U.K. executive editor Luke Lewis told the Lab’s Joseph Lichterman in March.

Local reporting may be the latest extension of this strategy, putting BuzzFeed reporters on the ground for local council meetings or other community concerns. At the least it will be interesting to see how BuzzFeed adapts its style and tone to a beat that was traditionally owned by local newspapers.

Local news in the U.K. is contested territory right now. Earlier this month, the BBC announced an ambitious reorganization plan that would shift the broadcaster in the direction of local news. Under the proposed plan, the BBC would develop a centralized hub for stories and data for news outlets to share and hire 100 new reporters.

Combined with the BuzzFeed expansion it could mean more local reporting jobs available to journalists across England. So far, the incursion into local news by outsiders has been met with some resistance by U.K. newspaper industry groups.

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