A Student Perspective on Journalism in the Digital Age

Josh Gelfat PhotoIn his reflection on the changing nature of journalism in our digital age, UC Davis undergraduate student Josh Gelfat offers a thoughtful commentary on BuzzFeed. A third-year American Studies major specializing in Political Media and Popular Culture, Josh is particularly interested in the ways journalism and social media influence and create popular culture.

Josh wrote the essay below in response to the “Perfect Page of Prose” assignment in Dr. Andy’s Technocultural Studies 191: Writing Across Media.


The Creativity of the Masses

BuzzFeed is revolutionizing the ways people consume popular culture and understand journalism. BuzzFeed invigorates traditional journalism by allowing the public to create a new cultural product. This democratization of the art and skill of journalism incorporates and inspires public creativity as a desired contemporary journalistic standard, and a defining characteristic of journalism for the current generation. Average citizens create stories through words, multimedia, and interactive quizzes and lists, all of which present a creative contrast to BuzzFeed’s more formal articles written by hired journalists. The imaginative lists and posts highlight the role of community participation in BuzzFeed, as the articles reflect the reader’s interests and ideas.

While BuzzFeed’s multifaceted structure may raise questions about its validity as journalism, the strategically categorized articles and interactive multimedia nevertheless function to attract and inform a new generation of readers. BuzzFeed’s dubious legitimacy as journalism stems from the website’s “seesaw” identity, which focuses on both serious journalistic articles and nonsensical and sometimes vulgar lists and videos. More specifically, BuzzFeed incorporates news, art, popular culture and video into a new-form of journalistic communication, fueled by reader creativity and interest. BuzzFeed challenges the newspaper columns and black and white monotony, and inspires a new form of creativity informed by the compilation of texts, images, multimedia, popular culture, and innovation. A neon green sweater worn on top of the black and white school uniform, BuzzFeed is transforming the way we understand and consume journalism and popular culture, and challenging the traditional methods of passive consumption with active participation.

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