Is social news the future? BuzzFeed certainly wants it to be
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BuzzFeed – the social entertainment website that provides social-driven entertainment content likes to be known as a social entertainment website that provides social-driven news and entertainment content. It’s understandable many are sceptical.
The social-driven aspect of BuzzFeed means much of the content is curated from elsewhere, mostly using GIF images from Tumblr, sometimes images from Instagram – there’s a heavy focus on celebrity content.
Oh, hang on – that does sound like a regular news service, doesn’t it?
The thing is BuzzFeed has been quietly producing solid news content for a number of years now and it’s taken this content and put it in its own app – away from that celebrity content mentioned above. Its news model mashes up current events with commentary from major news organizations like CNN or the BBC, and, following its entertainment content model, embeds tweets and other social content (though far fewer GIFs).
There’s also long-form news. Otherwise known to the rest of the world as news (old-school journalists will likely be embittered to find new media having to compartmentalize standard news stories).
The thing is, both forms offer something accessible. Either the opportunity to get an overview, embracing all forms of news-gathering, without having to dress it up as anything more than what news is – a presentation of the facts.
However, it’s clear now that BuzzFeed wants to increase its news prominence. The dedicated app removes all the articles that have made BuzzFeed famous. Like 23 cat pictures that prove that Harry Potter was a character from Game of Thrones. Or something.
The app itself is a sleek piece of design – employing a black and white scheme as opposed to BuzzFeed’s usual bright red and white. The main tab, or ‘Catch up’ gives users a quick overview of what’s been happening since they’ve last checked in the form of a bullet point list. Below that is those stories categorized both by subject e.g. ‘World’, or ‘Politics’, but also by subject matter, e.g. ‘Greek Debt Crisis’.
These stories aren’t particularly ordered and it can get a bit confusing jumping around – but the key approach to BuzzFeed is setting up notifications on the subjects you want so that you can follow those stories as they happen. These can be set under ‘My Alerts’ which covers regular categories like ‘Sport’ and those listed above, as well as a changing array of current stories, allowing users to stay updated on a particular story.
Opening up notifications as they come through will take you straight to the story. This is what gives the app the most value – easy and filtered access to BuzzFeed’s curation-style news content. BuzzFeed uses multiple ways to present information – via Vine, Twitter, Instagram, images, video from news organizations and Twitter contributions.
While this is a great way to get the full story, it doesn’t always feel like a lot of work has gone into curating the very best information, instead displaying what was easily Googled or found by the article writer. For anyone that’s used Yahoo’s News Digest, this concept is similar, but Yahoo does it better. However, BuzzFeed provides a more updatable, customizable interface through which to do it.
If you’re a regular news-hound that wants to follow the latest news stories quickly, and without spending your whole time Googling a whole range of different sources, then BuzzFeed News is a great app – because it does all of that for you.