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Aug. 24, 2016, 11:43 a.m.
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LINK: www.vanityfair.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Shan Wang   |   August 24, 2016

BuzzFeed may have always felt like two things, especially to non-media types: a viral entertainment powerhouse, and a Very Serious news division. Now BuzzFeed the company is officially splitting into two divisions, one to focus on entertainment and the other on news. Both divisions will place a huge emphasis on (what else) digital video.

In a memo — first obtained by Vanity Fair — announcing the company-wide reorganization on Tuesday, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti wrote:

In this new structure, video won’t be the job of just one department. Having a single “video department” in 2016 makes about as much sense as having a “mobile department”. Instead, it will be something we expand and embed across the organization. As digital video becomes ubiquitous, every major initiative at BuzzFeed around the world will find an expression as video, just like everything we do works on mobile and social platforms. Instead of organizing around a format or technology, we will organize our work to take full advantage of many formats and technologies.

BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith will oversee the news division, which will now include all of its health reporters, foreign correspondents, its other beat reporters, the breaking news team, and its investigations team. The expanding New York-based video news team, lead by Henry Goldman, will exist under BuzzFeed news division. (Back in May, Goldman told us that his news video team would be the “center of a Venn diagram” between BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, and that BuzzFeed Motion Pictures–produced news video would be following the newsroom’s editorial standards.)

Everything else will fall under a new division called the BuzzFeed Entertainment Group (BFEG). Ze Frank, previously president of BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, will see his kingdom expand as president of the newly formed BFEG.

Observers took the news as another sign that BuzzFeed will be stepping back from the less profitable business of news (and is now better set up to spin off its news division in the future), a narrative that’s only grown since reports that the company missed its 2015 revenue targets and was cutting its 2016 projections.

BuzzFeed has been eager to refute such claims. Peretti told Vanity Fair that though the emphasis on producing more video was mutually beneficial for BuzzFeed reporters who thus far have primarily been writers: “Reporters and writers are the ones who call people to interview them, who get scoops,” he said. “Having more video-news capacity means that our reporters can write it up and also push that to our video team so they can reach an even bigger audience.”

Photo by Scott Beale/Laughing Squid used under a Creative Commons license.

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