Nieman Foundation at Harvard
The enduring allure of conspiracies
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Sept. 7, 2012, 11 a.m.
Reporting & Production

Jonah Peretti: “It won’t work to try to make some other site like BuzzFeed”

BuzzFeed’s CEO says sites have to be “true to their core and their DNA.”

After Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night, C-SPAN Radio shared a stat about how many tweets per minute Obama (52,757), Mitt Romney (14,289) and other political figures generated over the course of the Democratic and Republican conventions.

The host attributed the numbers to BuzzFeed, paused a beat, then characterized it as a politics site. BuzzFeed is a politics site, but it’s always funny to hear it so narrowly defined. (And of course, those numbers originated with Twitter itself.)

Incidentally, a couple of hours earlier, I had caught up with BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti in New York. We talked about how people who get what BuzzFeed is trying to do really get it. And people who don’t really don’t. (A Washington political reporter who has covered a dozen presidential campaigns actually got angry when I recently described to him the popular website that prominently features both serious political reporting and silly cat photos.)

Here’s Peretti:

And for all the sites that are suddenly running BuzzFeed-inspired lists or other mimicry, Peretti has this to say:

“Sites usually do better when they’re true to their core and their DNA. And it’s hard to be like another site, you know? We don’t try to be like other sites. Some people thought that BuzzFeed would try to be like Huffington Post, because we have some of the same people on our board and people involved. But it wouldn’t have worked to try to make BuzzFeed like Huffington Post, and it won’t work to try to make some other site like BuzzFeed.”

POSTED     Sept. 7, 2012, 11 a.m.
SEE MORE ON Reporting & Production
Show comments  
Show tags
Join the 50,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
The enduring allure of conspiracies
Conspiracy theories seem to meet psychological needs and can be almost impossible to eradicate. One remedy: Keep them from taking root in the first place.
With Out-of-Pocket, Nikhil Krishnan wants to make the healthcare industry funnier — and easier to understand
“It doesn’t lend itself to a lot of different types of jokes but I’m so in the deep Reddit that at this point, the sadboi existential crisis jokes just come naturally.”
Yes, deepfakes can make people believe in misinformation — but no more than less-hyped ways of lying
The reasons we get fooled by political lies are less about the technology behind their production and more about the mental processes that lead us to trust or mistrust, accept or discount, embrace or ignore.