The editor of Buzzfeed.com is trying to convince media outlets to adopt “new rules” when reporting about the Trump administration.
In an op-ed published in The New York Times on Monday, Buzzfeed’s editor in chief, Ben Smith, made an attempt at defending his decision to release an unverified dossier containing false news about Donald Trump prior to the inauguration.
Smith wrote, “Rather than double down on the rules of traditional journalism that worked so well when people got their news from only a few outlets, journalists should embrace the chaos of the new media world.”
Here is a larger excerpt from Smith:
“There is an instinct, easy to understand, to turn away from this chaos. Some legacy media organizations have reacted to the new challenges by retreating to traditional reporting procedures of ostentatious, and sometimes false, balance and voice-of-God authority. Their theory is that the media can confront power by engaging in a theater of traditional journalism and proving their purity and incorruptibility — in short, hew to the same rules that got them steamrolled in 2016.
Their retreat is dangerous. Instead, we need to develop new rules that adhere to the core values of honesty and respect for our audience. That means debunking falsehoods, and being transparent with readers about our process of reporting. Sometimes, it means publishing unverified information in a transparent way that informs our users of its provenance, its impact and why we trust it or distrust it.
Of course, there are lines to be drawn, and we draw them every day. BuzzFeed News receives false tips that lead to dead ends we do not publish. But the Trump dossier was legitimate news: a document that was already influencing decision makers at the very highest levels. In a democracy, the justification for shielding the public from something like that must be overwhelming. The instinct to suppress news of this significance is precisely the wrong one for journalism in 2017.”
Smith never fully explained which rules need to go, or which rules can stay, nor what he meant when using the word chaos. All he did was make another lame attempt to justify his hit piece on Trump.
Somehow, Buzzfeed.com has grown to be one of the most visited websites in the world. The website specializes in publishing recipes, licensed photos of celebrities, and memes of pussy cats. It is far from being a credible news source let alone the authority on how to establish rules for journalists. For example, it is clear Smith did not learn his lesson after causing chaos with a false dossier. Below is an example of Buzzfeed reports as news:
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