Listicles, exploding watermelons and that blue dress are getting a new home at BuzzFeed: The web publisher is reorganizing to more clearly separate news and entertainment while simultaneously making it easier for both camps to produce video content. However, some fear that this may emphasize video views over original reporting.
BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti announced in a memo to staffers Tuesday afternoon that the company was reorganizing into two newly-formed divisions: BuzzFeed’s news team, which is headed by editor-in-chief Ben Smith himself, and an entertainment division, headed by BuzzFeed Motion Pictures president and vlog pioneer Ze Frank. The news was first reported by Vanity Fair.
As part of the reorg, BuzzFeed is directly integrating its video production teams with both divisions. “In this new structure, video won’t be the job of just one department,” Peretti wrote in his memo. “Having a single ‘video department’ in 2016 makes about as much sense as having a ‘mobile department’.”
The announcement happens as questions about the financial viability of media ventures, including BuzzFeed, have arisen in recent months. The Financial Times reported in April that BuzzFeed missed its revenue projections for 2015, bringing in $170 million as opposed to the $250 million that the company was shooting for.
BuzzFeed later called parts of that report “significantly incorrect,” but didn’t provide any updated revenue numbers. In addition, NBCUniversal’s massive $200 million investment in the company has raised expectations for its performance going forward.
Some are now fearing that the reorganization could force BuzzFeed’s news reporters to focus more on video production, and less on original reporting. The company has denied this, with Smith telling Fortune that the move is “really more of a restructuring than a downsizing or de-emphasizing of news.”
The goal of the reorg was to become better at both, news and entertainment, explained Peretti in his memo. “We have an opportunity to be the leading entertainment company for the mobile, social age,” he wrote. “And we are in position to build the #1 global news brand for a new generation who consume news differently than their parents, but care passionately about what is happening in a quickly-changing world.”