Nieman Foundation at Harvard
Postcards and laundromat visits: The Texas Tribune audience team experiments with IRL distribution
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
July 1, 2015, 5:32 p.m.
Reporting & Production
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Justin Ellis   |   July 1, 2015

BuzzFeed is taking its recent push into the world of audio and looking inward. The company recently launched a new podcast about, well, life at BuzzFeed.

BuzzFeed Dot Com, The Website: The Podcast, is aimed at a narrow listenership of people who work for BuzzFeed Dot Com, The Website. Scott Lamb, BuzzFeed’s vice president of international, explains: “This is a little bit of an experiment — we’ll see how it goes. It’s really intended for our international editors and those not in the New York office to learn a little bit more about what we’re doing here.”

The pilot episode features Summer Anne Burton, head of BFF, BuzzFeed’s team focused on distributed content. Burton covers a handful of topics about life at BuzzFeed, including how the BFF team was born:

When we started doing video, we thought we would do it for the website, and then it didn’t do as well on the website as it did on YouTube. And then we had also started hiring illustrators for BuzzTeam, and their work often did really well on the site, but often individual pieces of it would break off and go viral on the Internet and almost become a meme on their own.

Communication can be a problem for any growing news organization, let alone media companies that have foreign bureaus and other satellites around the globe. (The issue of communication with remote staffers came up in the debate over Gawker’s decision to unionize.) Recently media companies have started to embrace Slack as the method to keep the team in touch.

BuzzFeed is enjoying an extended growth spurt as a media company with new outposts in Canada and Mexico. The new podcast is framed as an audio postcard out of New York.

BDCTW:TP could be an odd show for BuzzFeed. It may not make you play M/F/K with the web like Internet Explorer, or offer the unexpected and unexplainable drunken debates of Another Round (highly recommend), but it could be an interesting experiment in transparency. An experiment that likely will be interesting to a somewhat narrow audience of, well, people like Nieman Lab readers. For instance, the phrase “distributed content” comes up several times in the first episode; here’s Burton giving her definition:

I think the way it’s defined, it really is pretty broad. It really depends a lot on the platform. It’s easy to think about a video as distributed content; you make a video and you can put it on YouTube, you can put it on Facebook. So it’s distributed in all these different places.

But there are things like paragraphs from a longer story that can also be distributed on Twitter through a screenshot. So we’re just kinda trying to think of different ways to take projects we’re doing and do them in many forms.

Show tags
Join the 60,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Postcards and laundromat visits: The Texas Tribune audience team experiments with IRL distribution
As social platforms falter for news, a number of nonprofit outlets are rethinking distribution for impact and in-person engagement.
Radio Ambulante launches its own record label as a home for its podcast’s original music
“So much of podcast music is background, feels like filler sometimes, but with our composers, it never is.”
How uncritical news coverage feeds the AI hype machine
“The coverage tends to be led by industry sources and often takes claims about what the technology can and can’t do, and might be able to do in the future, at face value in ways that contribute to the hype cycle.”