BuzzFeed business news wants to be scoops
by Chris Roush
BuzzFeed‘s business news strategy is to focus on breaking news but focusing on the areas where it believes it can cover the news better than others, said its business editor in an interview on Tuesday.
“Business news is scoops,” said Peter Lauria. “That’s how you get readers. That’s how you get noticed. That’s how you get mentioned.”
Lauria was hired earlier this year from Reuters to launch the BuzzFeed business news desk. The site will soon add a tab for business under the news section tab on the homepage. An official launch of BuzzFeed’s business coverage is expected on Wednesday.
In the past month, Lauria has hired a team of four business journalists — Sapna Maheshwari from Bloomberg News, Matt Lynley from The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast/Newsweek’s Matthew Zeitlin and Mariah Summers, who worked for Money-Media, a subsidiary of the Financial Times, as a reporter.
“We’re looking for smart, sophisticated analysis that can hold up against the Times, the FT, the Journal,” said Lauria. “And at Buzzfeed you have the added bonus of adding a layer of humor on top of the serious news that we’re reporting. I think there is an appetite, not just among the general reader but also on Wall Street, to have some humor. That’s not to say we’re going to be humor all the time.”
Lauria pointed to two stories that the BuzzFeed business desk has already done — Maheshwari’s story about the Abercrombie & Fitch dress code and his story about how Bloomberg executives knew in 2011 that its reporters were using the terminal to snoop on clients — as examples of scoops. The Bloomberg story was later given credit in a New York Times story.
“We’re a small team. Me and four other reporters,” said Lauria. “We can’t cover everything. We’re not going to cover everything. Business news is covered so extensively that is is kind of ephemeral. We’re focusing on trying to cover a few areas really, really well — Entertainment, technology, mostly consumer tech; I can’t see us doing a lot of Sun Microsystems or IBM stories. Specialty retail, which is Sapna’s beat, and Wall Street and money and how that impacts all of these areas. PE, hedge funds, deals, bulge bracket banks.
“We’re trying to do a new kind of journalism, which is to get business journalism to break out and be shared by the audience,” added Lauria. “What we’re going to try to do is less posts that are smarter and scoopier that will have longer life and travel further. I’d rather have that than just 20 posts that populate the page.”
While BuzzFeed is known for its posts that focus on the 20 cutest cats or the 30 foods to DIY instead of buy, Lauria said serious business news will have a place on the site.
“A lot of people have been wondering how BuzzFeed will do business news that can travel well,” he said. “It’s unreasonable to expect a business story to get as many posts as a cat story. But for the topics we are covering, the subset of readers are infinitely interested. Retail people will intensely share an Urban Outfitters story.