Introduction to BuzzFeed Articles

As a millennial, my outlook on media and news channels definitely varies from those of my parents who grew up in the 80’s.  I’m sure we’ve all heard it before: “why don’t you open up a damn newspaper and read something real for once!”  Honestly, it has taken my parents FOREVER to understand the significance of technology for our generation, and sometimes I think that they still don’t even get it.  It’s a concept that’s entirely new to them being that they grew up in an age where the most high-tech way of spreading information was through television broadcasts and phone calls.

For me, the news is everywhere.  With every scroll through Facebook or Instagram I’m undoubtedly seeing links and posts about everything from sports, to politics, to the newest cookie dough recipe.  The way in which we are exposed to the media on such a massive scale is entirely unique to our generation.  It’s never been so easy to simple Google “what’s going on in the world today” and receive 24 pages of links describing the day’s occurrences.

One media platform that immediately comes to mind when thinking of modern media is BuzzFeed.  BuzzFeed is an entirely new concept in itself.  There is nothing that isn’t on BuzzFeed: it encompasses all that a news platform hopes to achieve.  It’s relatable, easy to navigate, approachable, free, and has something for EVERYONE.  My personal favorite is their multitude of fun quizzes that they post (my friends and I send them back and forth in our group chat on the daily.) Check them out and let me know your results !!! Whether you’re looking to learn about the latest clothing trends or read a collection of embarrassing childhood stories, BuzzFeed has it all.

My favorite part about BuzzFeed is its often casual-feel.  Whenever I click on an article, I never feel intimidated by the way in which the piece is written.  I think that this is what makes the genre of a BuzzFeed article so perfect for my next experiment.  I initially struggled trying to conceptualize how I can take my jumbled thoughts and compose them into another piece of writing.  After re-reading my notes and talking with Julie, we realized that a central theme threaded through the majority of my notes were long distance relationships.  As a result, I figured I could use these raw feelings and thoughts and use them to compose a piece that discusses the ups and down of a long distance relationship in college.  Although I definitely don’t have a concrete solution for how to get through it (yet,) I think writing about my personal experience in this form could be helpful to those either going through it themselves or interested in hearing the struggles of transitioning from high school to college with a “home” boyfriend.



A First Glance at Digital Journalism

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In beginning the research portion of my project, I started surfing around on a few digital magazine/content provider sites that Professor McDaniel suggested I look into. For those of you who might not know, my capstone project is centered on challenging the notion that print journalism is dead. In particular, I am investigating print articles in a number of prominent magazines, and highlighting what print journalism is still doing better than digital journalism. In this case, though I will not focus on digital content providers, for instance, BuzzFeed, Slate, and Salon, I plan to use them as points of comparison. Below were my immediate thoughts at first glance:

I am extremely familiar with BuzzFeed, and think its content, design, and utility is both innovative and unique. BuzzFeed offers a wide range of article types, including everything from long form to “listicles”. What I like most about BuzzFeed is that its content is presented in a visually appealing manner. Each article is supported with effective images, categorized into sections, or written in a friendly yet witty manner that is easy to understand. I believe, however, that BuzzFeed does not always offer the most newsworthy content to readers. As Michael Massing alludes to in his article on digital journalism in The New York Review of Books, BuzzFeed has a reputation for its cat photos and humorous listicles. I think the “News” section of the site is effective in terms of significant journalism, however, it’s “17 Boozy Ice Cream Recipes To Get You Through The Holidays”- and “19 Times Lindsay From “You’re The Worst” Was A Goddamn Inspiration”-type articles are more effective at entertainment, rather than journalism.

I was a bit overwhelmed by Slate when I first arrived on the website. The content seemed endless and sort of all over the place. At the top of the page, the content was not sorted not by topic or category, rather, by reader activity and recency. It was divided into columns titled “Most Read,” “Most Shared,” “Most Recent,” “In Case You Missed It,” and so on. The interface, however, was extremely representative of “digital journalism.” There were videos, slideshows, and audio recordings embedded into almost every article I clicked on. Overall, though it was difficult to sort through the information, Slate offered a very interactive reading experience, as well as a wide range of content.

I was more comfortable with my experience surfing through Salon than I was surfing through Slate. There were topical categories at the very top of the homepage, which made it easier to sort through the information. Even still, the website provided me with a very- for lack of a better word- vertical experience. I felt the scrolling process was never-ending, that there was an overabundance of content featured on the homepage alone. I felt I had to personally choose which articles were worth clicking on, rather than being shown or told which were most relevant and worth my time. I do recognize that there are less spatial constraints on the Internet, and that digital news organizations take advantage of posting a ton of content at once. I, however, find this aspect of digital journalism overwhelming, rather than beneficial.

Can’t Even Focus on TV

It’s no secret that the world thinks that valuable literacy is dying. “The written word has lost its value!” They say. “All anyone looks at is pictures.”

“If you can’t get your message across quickly, you’ve lost them.”

The world is convinced literacy is dying and that its taking the human race down with it. While I won’t and can’t deny that the written word seems to have lost some value amongst the younger generations, I can’t help but feel that some of this a bit of an exaggeration. While I’m well aware that you would need a construction crane to pry my 14 year old sister’s head up from her cell phone, I’m also cognoscente of the fact that my 17 year old sister reads at least 7 books over the summer. So, perhaps this “message mania” is generational, but here I have two individuals right in front of me who both defy and confirm what everyone’s freaking out over. I really don’t think the value of the written word has died, but I think as society progresses, what individuals value certainly shifts with the world as well. After all, it’s only natural and healthy to adapt.

I’ll admit, I’m not the most avid reader. I don’t hate books and I don’t have zero clue what’s going on in the news, but I’m definitely not curling up in my bed with a copy of the latest New York Times Best Seller, and I wouldn’t call on me to tell you the latest Clinton news. I mean, you can, but it’ll be awkward for the both of us because I truly don’t really know anything that’s happening. There’s hope for me, though. Or maybe there’s not. It depends which way you look at it. I do find I would rather sit on my bed getting lost in the blogosphere and taking BuzzFeed quizzes than focus on a television show. Is this a good sign? For me, finding out which “cat dressed as sushi” I am and reading fun and witty opinions on relevant topics is much more entertaining than an hour long episode of Grey’s Anatomy- and that’s not just because the show has been on 14 seasons, and sooooo needs to end. I’ve found it extremely difficult to start or get into new television shows because as soon as I put it on the TV or stream it on my Netflix, I find myself wandering off into the internet’s depths of what I’d like to consider  my version of “living literacy.”

What Type of Punctuation Mark Are You?

I’m a procrastinator. I try to deny it in front of my parents and friends, but usually to no avail. I sit down in front of my books ready to study, but suddenly and helplessly find myself doing something else. I shop online, eat, take a nap, think about what I want to eat next, eat that, and the cycle continues. One of my favorite procrastinating tools –and also my sworn enemy –is Buzzfeed. It’s got everything: gifs of cats falling off tables, recipes for pancakes from around the world, and (most importantly) pictures of shirtless Ryan Gosling. That reminds me, I need to go on Buzzfeed real quick…

One aspect of Buzzfeed that I especially love is the “What Type of *insert object* Are You” segments. From “What Type of Book Are You” to “What Type of Social Media Are You,” these articles are incredibly entertaining. Taking inspiration from this, I made a “What Type of Punctuation Mark Are You.” Take a gander and find your punctuation mark spirit animal.

The Question Mark [?]

You’re generally confused and always asking questions. A beat behind everyone else, you often find yourself copying homework for a class you forgot to attend. (Is Writing 220 on Monday or Tuesday?) Despite these fallbacks, you could make a great journalist one day because you’re not afraid to ask the tough questions.

The Ellipsis […]

Similar to the Question Mark. You need a little more time than the average person to figure things out. You’re not yet sure what you want in life and have trouble making decisions. It takes just a quick pause to find your answer and move on.

The Exclamation Point [!]

You’re the life of the party. You make the best of any situation because you find excitement in everything. You can be a little dramatic sometimes, but usually have good intentions. A text from you will brighten up a friends day.

The Period [.]

The foil to the Exclamation Point. You like things to be short, occasionally sweet, and to the point. You are not at the top of the party invite list because you always bring the fun to an end. Texting you is often tense, as you’re always moody. “Fine.” “Ok.” “No.”

The Dash [–]

You’re a good person to have around. You’re knowledgeable and always there to fill in the blanks for people, or give information. Your timing could use work, though, because you’re always interrupting.

words and moving words

The more I’ve gotten into reading for pleasure online, the better I have realized my ideal type of work I prefer to interact with. I’ve always been a huge fan of long, informative articles on topics I admire such as Detroit sports, college culture and anything Michigan. If a writer attracts my attention in a topic of interest for the first 30 seconds it takes me to read their piece, I’m hooked.

With my discovery of booming centers of creativity like BuzzFeed, The Rsvlts, and The Daily Pregame (formerly known as College Town Life), I have become an avid reader of not only blocks of text pieces, but ones that incorporate impressive infographics, list and memes. I browse these sites for laughter, inspiration and occasionally to learn about something that I was uninformed of before. I look forward to updates and love going through the archives to stumble across articles I might have already read but wouldn’t mind reading again. It’s sites like these, with much user-generated content, that get me excited about writing and what you can do with it beyond the bounds of the English language.

As much as I enjoy these websites, I find myself being turned off from BuzzFeed video or the same material presented in video form. I was trying to figure out why I can go through Jimmy Tatro’s entire video library and not be bored, but resist watching a segment like two-minute 10 Scrumptious Facts About Your Favorite Cereal Brands or one of the other playful videos found on their site. I think this is because I can’t easily scroll through a video and get a sense if I want to “read” it fully or not, or even skim it. Short videos are meant to be watched all the way through, and with my busy schedule I’d rather spend 30 seconds skimming a BuzzFeed article than taking a full two minutes on a BuzzFeed video.

This article over video preference is somewhat topic specific though. If a video headline really caught my eye I wouldn’t hesitate to watch that. But with the wide range of videos on the net, I’d rather spend my time watching Ted Talks or ESPN’s 30 for 30 series or movies I’ve been dying to see but haven’t got around to or Netflix. Producers of culture and content are vying for our time, our screen time and intellectual time.

Even we are engaging in trying to get each other’s attention through flashy titles and strong writing that will get a reader through to the very end of our pieces. It’s a tricky thing, both muddling through a sea of content and producing content ourselves to be muddled through and plucked out as worthy of attention. Sometimes I feel as if even trying is a winless battle in a place where the top dogs leave little room for other mutts to emerge.

As we become more digitally saturated, I hope that I’ll eventually like to watch videos more often but until that time, I’ll take my learning traditionally, through text. Even though it’s old-fashioned, it feels more comfortable to me.