Buzzfeed splits itself in two with separate news and entertainment departments

The Buzzfeed newsroom in New York. Picture: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

Buzzfeed has split its operations into separate news and entertainment arms.

Explaining the move, the company says it has “ambitious goals” to build the “number one global news brand for a new generation who consume news differently than their parents”.

It has set up BuzzFeed Entertainment Group (BFEG), a new department that will provide an umbrella for all of its entertainment content. News will be run separately under Buzzfeed News (BFN).

Competing with the likes of Vice, which launches Viceland TV next month, the company says it also wants to become the “leading entertainment company for the mobile, social age”.

In a memo to staff, Buzzfeed chief Jonah Peretti said: “This structure will allow us to be better at entertainment and better at news.

“It will also complete our shift to becoming a cross-platform media company, with entertainment and news both living on our site, our apps, and distributed on platforms across the web in multiple native formats.”

As video looks set to dominate the news media agenda, the global media company has responded by saying it will expand and embed video capability “across the organisation”.

“Having a single ‘video department’ in 2016 makes about as much sense as having a ‘mobile department’,” said Peretti.

Editor-in-chief Ben Smith will continue to head up Buzzfeed News.

Some existing editorial groups, including the health team, will be added to the global news operation alongside “beat reporters, breaking news team, investigative reporters and foreign correspondents”, Peretti said.

Video news, headed by Henry Goldman, will also become part of the Buzzfeed News organisation with plans to expand the team.

The split isn’t expected to affect the UK team as much as the US, which is a much larger operation.

Teams working on “Buzz” and “Life” sections for the UK team, as opposed to “news”, will continue under the news arm, despite content being considered entertainment.

News has been a clear focus for Buzzfeed UK, which has an editorial team of about 80, as it has expanded its news team with a number of high profile recruits of late.

Janine Gibson, former deputy editor of the Guardian, took over as UK editor-in-chief in June last year, a few months after former Sunday Times assistant editor and Insight journalist Heidi Blake joined as UK investigations editor.

Picture: Reuters

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