Buzzfeed’s incomplete coverage of Ethiopian plane crash leaves questions

Buzzfeed Headquarters in New York City
Buzzfeed News in NYC (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Written by Maria Gil

Buzzfeed’s coverage of the Ethiopian airplane crash would be considered below average if you were to compare it the New York Time’s coverage of the same incident.

One of the main problems was that Buzzfeed failed to caption their two images. This made me confused about who the people in the images were. For example, in the first image, there is a woman on the phone and she appears distressed. Who is she? Why is she distressed? Was a family or friend on the plane that crashed? Is she trying to find out if the person she is waiting at the airport is safe? If the reporter, Nidhi Subbaraman, would have supplied that I would have felt more of a connection to the woman. The second image there is a man wearing a suit in the midst of the rumble. Same questions: who is he, what is he doing?

Buzzfeed's failure to follow basic online journalism rules
Buzzfeeed provides a source of the image but fails to tell its readers who this man is and why he is in the rumble. (Screencap Source: Buzzfeed)
Buzzfeed would get a pass on in their online journalism techniques
Who is this woman? Did she know someone on the plane that crashed? Why was she featured? (Screencap Source: Buzzfeed)

The piece was also missing a very crucial hyperlink to an important source. I would have included a link to a video of the press conference by Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Genremariam. It was quickly found on Youtube, but it would have been more user-friendly if Buzzfeed hyperlinked to it instead.

Buzzfeed should have hyperlinked this conference
By hyperlinking this conference the reader could have also listened to what else the CEO had to say. (Screencap Source: Buzzfeed)
About Maria Gil 6 Articles
A multiplatform bilingual journalist from Miami, Florida residing in Sydney, Australia with big dreams of working for the New York Times and maybe winning a Pulitzer Prize. Twitter - @mgabygil

1 Comment

  1. Great observations Maria, particularly about the press conference, if that video was available at the time of publication. We have no timestamp on those videos so it’s hard to know. Yes, definitely these images need captions, and it’s a dismissive colonial gesture not to identify these people. Also as Ras noted, the alt text is missing. I also think the use of the tweets throughout could have been better managed. Linking bulletin 2 from Ethiopian airlines, and then embedding bulletin 1 is putting the emphasis on the less important information, the earlier details. The reporter’s not always using keywords for link phrases either, although the attribution of links is generally good. On your practice, good use of the medium. You don’t need the extra introductory byline, as there’s already one at the top and bottom of your story thanks to the story template.

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