The Buzzfeed generation: have we become too sensitive?

We live in an age where people are moving from front pages to home pages, where one can buy a new jacket, order pizza at four am and swipe someone right off their feet with a click of the button.
The new generation, or millennials as they are so often dubbed, are spending more and more time online. Impatient and easily distracted, they want everything quickly and presented in entertaining ways, including their news.

These changes in our approach to the world demand a new kind of journalism. The kind of journalism that grabs the attention of its readers amidst the myriads of selfies and memes; the kind of journalism that is concise and doesn’t bore readers by the second paragraph. Preferably, articles need to be accompanied by colourful images or cute cat memes and accessible on smartphones and laptops.

Traditional forms of media like newspapers and the radio are losing their appeal, as a large proportion of the population now access news through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Buzzfeed caters to this new generation and, as a result, has gained massive popularity in a short span of time.
It can hardly be denied that Buzzfeed has changed the face of journalism for those whose lives have been dominated by the immediacy of screens.

Buzzfeed describes itself as “the leading independent digital media company delivering news and entertainment to hundreds of millions of people around the world.” It makes no claim of presenting hard-hitting journalism, allowing people to spend hours procrastinating through quizzes that allow us to discover what Christmas song or Disney princess we are and read articles such as ‘19 Tweets that will make you miss Vine more than you already do’.

It has a huge social media following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as having millions of subscribers on YouTube. It is popular worldwide, with a Buzzfeed Facebook page tailored to different countries, such as Scotland, India, Australia and Español, each immensely popular in their respective countries.

What makes Buzzfeed attractive to its readers is the way it presents its content and the variety of content it offers. Buzzfeed’s current, UK-tailored, news page features headlines such as ‘Labour Says Boots Has Failed Women By Not Dropping The Price Of The Morning-After Pill’ on the same page as ‘33 Terrible And Gross Things That Nearly Everybody Has Experienced’.

Several questions come to mind as a result. For example, are the pieces deep enough to engage with the issue at hand? Does it take into account the different perspectives of society?

Traditional forms of journalism provide consistent, well-researched and angled content. These media outlets delve into issues, and create a conversation between readers.

With our ever-decreasing attention span, our interest in long and complex articles lessens and we are instead tempted to click on the colourfully pictured articles that pop up next to them.
Buzzfeed aims to make content that is fun, relatable and inoffensive, not content which is controversial and drives readers to agree or even take offense.

However, the benefit of having websites such as Buzzfeed is that people get to know what’s happening in the world around them, even if it is not through a tough and intellectual source.
This is significantly preferable to a complete ignorance of the happenings in the world. It benefits those who do not have the luxury of reading through a newspaper. This is especially true for students who have numerous assignments to do while juggling different societies and part-time jobs.

In such cases, Buzzfeed provides a break with its fun content and easy to access news. Media holds a great power to influence people.

Buzzfeed’s influence on the way millennials view the world seems undeniable and ever growing, but whether it will make hard-hitting journalism obsolete is yet to be seen.


Image: via Flickr

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