Buzzfeed: Ahead of the Curve
This lengthy column by Fox News on the racism and corruption of Donald Sterling and V. Stiviano’s revelation of some of his comments is a great example of watchdog journalism.
This is the owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers that we’re talking about here—the longest-tenured owner in the NBA, as a matter of fact.
And the representation of views in the article are nothing but harsh toward Sterling, but nonetheless they were the views of reputable opinion-leaders in our society. The author, Howard Kurtz, holds no bars in the relentless onslaught of the reputation of a man who apparently viewed himself as impervious to such attacks.
Kurtz reveals Sterling’s use of money, such as donating large sums to the NAACP, earning an award that has now been pulled by the LA chapter of the organization.
However, Kurtz does announce at the top and bottom of his column that he is a “liberal columnist,” so the attacks on a man embodying the corruption of big money may carry some bias. However, at the end of the day, it’s hard to say there’s much bias, as the long list of Sterling’s offenses speaks for itself.
The column also allows for a large degree of interactivity—readers can join in the discussion at the bottom of the page in the comments section, which displays the most recent comments for all to see. Also, there are links to share on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and email.
Kurtz does his best to still display balance, as he brings in a number of sides—religious (Al Sharpton), behind the scenes of the Clippers organization (Elgin Baylor), the NAACP and other media outlets, such as TMZ, which obtained Stiviano’s damning tape. The video included also shows a photo of the Clippers wearing their jerseys inside out in protest against their owner, providing yet another perspective.
The layout of the story is very clear, as the most recent developing events are at the top, followed by a detailed history of Sterling’s wrongdoings.
This article by John Branch with the New York Times develops the story further than the first, as it was released after the NBA had banned Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million.
This story takes a different approach than the Fox News political commentary approach, as it is in the sports section. Therefore, the initial focus is on NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s handling of the final decision and his statements, then going on to elaborate on this situation’s effect on the Clippers, who are still fighting for their lives in the NBA Playoffs.
Furthermore, as a news piece rather than a column, this story appears less biased, more balanced and less condemning of Sterling—the reader can come to that conclusion themselves, rather than being fed it like in the Fox column.
The use of photos evenly distributed throughout the story also keeps the reader more engaged. Fox News brought a more “wall of text” approach, which isn’t as appealing to the eye.
This article includes a comments section, but it is small and on the sidebar in the middle of the article—not an easy place to find it. I had to actively search in order to discover it. Also, the links to share are only at the top of the article, rather than top and bottom like the Fox and Buzzfeed works. In today’s age, you want to make interconnectivity as easy for the consumer as possible, and the New York Times struggles in that aspect.
This Buzzfeed article by Make Hayes brings an entirely different approach than the previous mainstream news outlets.
Rather than working from the present backward, Hayes briefly outlines the current situation with the NBA and David Sterling before backtracking to Sterling’s beginnings in a section-by-section analysis. The other two pieces did not divide the story out by subheadings like this article—“Who is Donald Sterling?” is followed by “How did Sterling make his money?” and “How did he become an NBA owner?”
This format allows the reader to follow his life in a forward-chronological (past to present) manner, which to some may be easier to follow and understand than the backward method employed by Fox News and the New York Times (present to past).
The article also appears the most balanced, as a section is dedicated to Sterling’s First Amendment rights in the situation. This provides more balance than the others, which simply tore Sterling apart.
Additionally, Buzzfeed dropped photos throughout the story—a big plus for the modern journalism consumer.
Buzzfeed also has the best layout for the comments section. Rather than listing the most recent comments, Buzzfeed lists the comments as a “Facebook conversation” with the comments receiving the most likes listed first. This makes the most sense for the audience, as the most widely supported views are often the most sought-after.
Taken as a whole, the Buzzfeed article does the best job with this story. This may come as a surprise to those who stick to the mass media outlets, but maybe Buzzfeed’s size is a greater impetus to put more work into best meeting the needs of consumers.
On the other hand, Buzzfeed is catering to a younger generation than the New York Times, which explains Buzzfeed’s much higher level of interactivity.
The layout is also more geared toward today’s generation of shorter attention spans, which could be why I, as a 22 year old, prefer the way Buzzfeed does things.
However, it is the job of the media to stay up-to-date with technological innovations and societal developments like these, and Buzzfeed takes the cake there. The mammoth organizations should ought to take note and get with the times.