My stance is that they are doing more good than harm, and that they are helping to save the news industry.
Ask any teen, twenty-something or thirty-something social media user if they’ve ever seen a listicle, and I guarantee your list of no’s will be miniscule. Listicles are just one technique that Buzzfeed has implemented in order to attract a larger audience, and specifically to appeal to young adult generations.
It is a well-known modern-day fact that almost no one reads ALL of anything. However when a listicle catches the attention of an internet-user with its specifically numbered title, for example, 34 Times a Cat Depicted Your Life Perfectly, that user will more than likely go through all 34 cat items/photographs on that list. Listicles are not unique to cat stories and what some may deem pointless entertainment. They have also been used to convey political messages, such as in 18 Things Donald Trump has 100% Actually Said, and 7 Things Hillary Clinton Has In Common With Your Abuela. A reader who goes through these lists will definitely learn a thing or two about the candidate in question, thus perhaps adding to their political awareness. One might argue that these listicles are bias, or fail to provide real news and important facts. However even if this is true, this exposure may prompt further research by the reader into political candidates, the issues, etc. This is important. Especially when speaking about America’s youth.
Listicles such as these allow readers to “list snack,” if you will. Modern day news consumers do not want to read pages of texts. They would rather have the information spewed at them in quick, short bursts. This is just what the listicle does. Thus leaving the reader perhaps more informed than a traditional news article would.
Even the implementation of Buzzfeed quizzes such as Which GOP President Are You? provides readers with an entertaining way to help them better understand their own political ideologies, thus aiding them in their November 2016 decision.
Even though Gawker bashed Buzzfeed for being untrustworthy in a fairly recent article, Gawker implements a similar, enticing approach. Their blog-like news story style, complete with gifs and often-colloquial, engaging titles, attracts a younger audience, as well as a huge chunk of news consumers who want quick information.
These two sources understand the future of media. Buzzfeed founder, Jonah Peretti, speaks on this in an interview with Fortune Magazine:
Buzzfeed and Gawker are keeping up with the fast paced, ever-transforming technological world in which we live. This is something that others within the news industry have somewhat failed to do. This is why Buzzfeed and Gawker are helping to keep this industry alive. They understand their transforming audience and they work to mold to their desires and their needs.