Buzzfeed on Iraqi Refugee problems
I’ve always had a particular interest in refugee interests, so I’ve been following the Yazidis within Iraq, as well as other minority groups, as they have fled persecution by the new Islamic state (ISIS/ISIL). As I looked into this issue, I came across this buzzfeed article which detailed some of the human rights violations the new Islamic state has committed against the Yazidi. Buzzfeed is a non-traditional and web-based media news source. It’s general feed consists of articles such as “16 Puppies Shaking it off is the cute you need today” and “27 Make-Ahead Recipes that Freeze Well and make Great Leftovers“. However, the Buzzfeed news section focuses on more serious stories from domestic and international news to personal publications on a variety of issues.
Buzzfeed as a non-traditional web based news source communicates news differently than traditional media sources such as the New York Times. Buzzfeed’s news articles feature more gifs and pictures than traditional stories, and will cover similar stories using less text than its established counterpart. Despite the difference in formats, Buzzfeed presented similar information to New York Times articles such as this Times video “Yazidi refugee: Islamic State took women ‘for themselves‘” and “Islamic State Propagandists Boast of Sexual Enslavement of Women and Girls“. Both articles cited a report by Human Rights Watch on the treatment of Yazidis by the Islamic State. Additionally, Buzzfeed and NYTimes used a video made by HRW either re-edited into a similar video (NYTimes) or images from the video itself (Buzzfeed) within their own articles. Compared to the original report done by Human Rights Watch, both articles had considerably less information and instead focused on summarizing key points from the initial story. With that stated, the NYTimes article did go into more detail compared to the Buzzfeed article.
Buzzfeed’s format, despite having less information through a more visual approach is an effective means of communicating news. That stated, I would compare Buzzfeed to a Wikipedia page, where both are useful in understanding general concepts of news. Additionally, the gifs and pictures presented in Buzzfeed articles appeal to an audience’s limited attention span for news. While Buzzfeed is great at explaining the important aspects of a story, it does lack more details that traditional media or the source itself can provide.
Although Buzzfeed and other non-traditional web media presents news differently than more traditional sources, it still needs to uphold the same impartiality and rules that apply to traditional sources. Any time news is being reported for dissemination, it is important to follow impartiality, collaborating sources, presenting a story without a bias, etc. to ensure the integrity of the story and to prevent wrong information from spreading. If any news source, including web-based media such as Buzzfeed, Vox, Huffington Post, or Vice, publish stories without doing these steps they run the risk of circulating lies, creating propaganda, or committing libel. Buzzfeed has been criticized for publishing articles with information that latter turned out to be false and additionally, was criticized for blurring the lines between advertising and journalism in this The Guardian article. It’s important to remember that journalism is still journalism regardless of whether it is web-based or more traditional.