DID YOU GET THE
ARE DIGITAL NATIVE MEDIA
University of North Carolina-Chapel
• Digital native media were born, and grown
• Some started as online content aggregators.
• Some digital native media are taking actions in
repositioning themselves to be original
• They are known for creating viral content
• They are popular among Millennials.
• Digital Native sites are fledgling in the news reporting business.
• They need to build a trustworthy news brand.
• Media ecology scholars suggested that nascent media would
adopt organizational forms in order to survive the uncertainty in
the media environment (Lowrey, 2012).
• Some of the changes can be observed, but some are internal and
• If the media organization did adapt news production routines, we
can expect to see:
– a greater number of sources per story
– a greater number of official sources
– more hard news than soft news
– more political news in hard news format
• A content analysis of news articles published by BuzzFeed.
• Two constructed weeks of each year from January 1, 2007 to
October 31, 2015.
• The final sample consists of a total of 912 articles.
2007 2009 2011 2013 2015
2007 2009 2011 2013 2015
1. Changes in News Sourcing before and after 2012
Topics Years Total
Before 2012 (%)
After 2012 (%)
Politics 52.9 49.8 49.4
Economy/business 18.3 10.5 9.5
Technology 15.4 5.8 4.6
Crime 2.9 10.4 11.4
War and related crisis 2.9 4.2 4.3
Lifestyle 2.9 2.1 2.0
Entertainment 1.9 6.5 7.1
Accidents/disasters 1 3.5 3.8
Human-interest 1 3.3 3.6
Science 1 0.8 0.7
Sports 0 1.6 1.9
Education 0 1.5 1.7
Total 100 100 100
2. Changes in News Topic before and after 2012
3. Changes in News Categories before and after 2012
4. Change in Political News Reporting before and after
5. Change in Political News Sourcing before and after 2012
• This study shows that BuzzFeed, though it is in the early stages of
establishing status as a news organization, has made significant
• BuzzFeed has gradually adopted routines resulting in more hard
news stories, and more official sources.
• The increasing amount of news coverage after 2012 is consistent
with the anticipated result from increasing newsroom resources:
more beat reporters were hired to cover news in culture, and
society; more international bureaus were opened to provide on-
the-ground news feeds.
• BuzzFeed News has demonstrated the opposite of the trend toward
a “softening of news.”
• This study provides a unique look at the organizational norms
and rules adopted by digital news media. It’s promising that
they will keep growing into a much bigger force in news
business especially online and targeting younger users. It is
important to continue learning more about those news
organizations and learning about how they will influence the
democratic process from time on.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill