The Guardian and Buzzfeed are two very different online news services that target different audiences and present news in diverse ways to engage and inform their readers. This is a comparison of the coverage of the same news story across the two services to identify the similarities and differences in the journalistic writing and content production, online and technical delivery.
The Guardian Australia is the Australian presence of the British legacy publication the Guardian. The publication was first launched in Manchester in 1821. It didn’t launch in Australia until 2013. Guardian Australia prides itself on being independent and solely owned by The Scott Trust. “Guardian journalists are free to say anything. We offer an unparalleled range of opinion, showing all sides of the story. As our legendary editor CP Scott wrote in 1921: “A newspaper is so much more than a business.” He then listed the values of the Guardian, which still guide us today: “Honesty, cleanness [integrity], courage, fairness, a sense of duty to the reader and the community.” (the Guardian, 2019)
The publication tends to have a left-wing political perspective. The online publication doesn’t have a paywall that most online publications now do, but relies on digital advertising and donations and subscriptions from readers for revenue.
The Guardian provides detailed statistics and infographics outlining their reach and target audience. It states that The Guardian has a reach of 2 million readers per month. It is consistently ranked among the top 10 news sites in Australia. The audience is 55% male and 45% female with an average age of 43. The target reader is an educated, professional on a high income. (the Guardian, 2019)
Journalistic writing and content production
The story is an informative piece that accurately covers the news of the arrest of a man who is wanted for drug-related charges as he was attempting to flee the country on a jet-ski. The headline is informative whilst still appealing as it is intriguing. The precede is also effective as it reveals more information on the story but intrigues the reader to continue. The story has direct quotes from reliable sources such as the Federal Police and Border commander which offers accurate, reliable information.
The brevity of the writing is successful as the length of the article is succinct and adequate for its purpose. The paragraphs are short and “stick to one concept” each which ensures that the reader is engaged and able to easily follow the story. (Bradshaw, 2018)
The story has a few tags and embedded links to key words of locations relevant to the story as well as the genre of news. This allows readers to follow these for related articles and news stories. Additionally, the tags will allow the article to be found on search engines or to be linked with similar articles online.
The story has two images which are effective in supporting the story. One image is of the man on his jet-ski and the other is a map outlining the route the man took to escape. The map is especially useful as it allows the reader to see how far the man actually managed to travel before his arrest.
The overall online delivery of the article is quite effective. Under the Byline there is a direct link to the twitter account of the journalist where a reader would be able to directly connect or contact them if needed. Further, the Byline itself is an embedded link that opens a new page with a small biography of the journalist as well as other articles they have written. This is a useful way the site connects the readers with the writers.
In addition, there are also social sharing buttons at the end of the story that generates a direct link to the article to be shared on various social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and also email.
There is not a section or option for comments on the article. This is often a useful feature on online news sites as it allows readers to connect with other readers share thoughts, opinions and perspectives. This misses the “community and conversation” element explored by Bradshaw (2018).
The overall usability and technical delivery of the article was basic but still effective. The site itself has a clear layout that is easy to navigate. Offering clear headings, navigation menu and some relevant thumbnail images. Users can easily find what they are searching for with multiple subheadings of news categories as well as a general search bar.
Within the article itself, there are relevant hyperlinks. However, they are not set to open on a new page or tab. This is slightly problematic as it would interrupt the reader by changing the page whilst reading if they were to click on a link. It would be more effective for the links to open in a new page, so the reader could easily switch between the two pages to make connections or gain more information before continuing to read the article.
Buzzfeed is a digital born service or ‘web-only publisher’ (Bradshaw, 2018), meaning the publication was never printed to begin with and was created to have an online presence only. The independent digital media company was founded in 2006 and is based in New York City and has a large global audience. It is well known for its variety of content, ranging from lists, videos and quizzes. The Buzzfeed news division of the site began in 2011. Buzzfeed describes its news coverage as “Our best work creates authentic audience engagement that fosters real-world impact” (About BuzzFeed, 2019) The website is free of a paywall and generates most of its revenue through native advertising in editorial content rather than banner advertising. It also profits from advertising of its social media accounts.
The website has a clear left-wing political stance with more progressive values, openly showing support to LGBT equality, gender equality, anti-racism and more. Buzzfeed is targeted to a younger audience between 18 – 30, reaching 3 out of 5 US millennials monthly. It has a global reach of 650 million with over 9 billion content views per month. The content is shared on all social media platforms, making it easily accessible to their target audience. (Thalamus.co, 2019)
Journalistic writing and content production
The story offers readers all the relevant information and details on the story, however also includes humour, satire and references to popular culture. The sources of the story, The Australian Boarder Force and The Australian Federal Police, are credible and reliable meaning that the overall purpose to inform readers with accurate information is met.
The headline of the story is short and effective and fulfils its purpose. The precede reads “We’ve learned from DJ Khaled over the years — repetitive catch phrases sell music and jet skis are NOT your friend,” police wrote on Facebook.” Whilst this offers the reader no further summary or information on the story itself it aims to appeal to its audience to engage them to continue reading.
The story is set out in short paragraphs containing one concept per paragraph. The brevity of the whole story is appropriate as it is concise and effective. (Bradshaw, 2018)
There are several embedded links within the story that offer further information and images. These include a link to the official statement from the Australian Boarder Force as well as social media posts from the Australian Federal Police. These offer the reader credible images and information.
The online delivery on Buzzfeed is very effective and interactive. The Byline is a direct link to a short biography of the journalist as well as their email, twitter and other articles they have written. Readers are able to connect and interact directly with the journalist.
Additionally, there are social sharing buttons at the start and end of the article to easily allow readers to share a direct link to the article on their different social platforms. Whilst there is no section for comments on the article which neglects ‘community and conversation’ (Bradshaw, 2018) there is a link for readers to submit a ‘confidential tip’ which engages uses and allows them to be part of the platform by encouraging user generated content.
The technical delivery on Buzzfeed is very effective, both within the article and generally on the whole site. The site has a clear, minimal layout with a hidden navigation menu, clear headlines and thumbnail images to all stories. Users are able to find what they are searching for through specific headings and the clear, general search bar.
The links in the article open in a new page when clicked which doesn’t interrupt the reader while reading. Also, the Facebook and Twitter links are embedded within the article so that readers don’t even need to open them and can view them while reading. This makes the article highly interactive and functional.
In summary, both sites offer informative and reliable coverage on the same news story. It is very clear that Buzzfeed target their writing towards a younger audience, including humour and references to popular culture. While the Guardian just presents the reader with facts and information.
Both sites have a functional layout with interactive elements that engage the reader and allows sharing on social media. As a millennial, I find the news on Buzzfeed to be more effective as it is more engaging, however for consistently accurate, reliable and informative news I would most likely rely on the Guardian.
- About BuzzFeed. (2019). About BuzzFeed. [online] Available at: https://www.buzzfeed.com/about [Accessed 29 Mar. 2019].
- Bradshaw, P., & Rohumaa, L. (2017). The online journalism handbook : Skills to survive and thrive in the digital age. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy1.library.usyd.edu.au
- Thalamus.co. (2019). BuzzFeed Advertising Mediakits, Reviews, Pricing, Traffic, Rate Card Cost. [online] Available at: https://www.thalamus.co/ad_partners/buzzfeed [Accessed 29 Mar. 2019].
- the Guardian. (2019). History of the Guardian. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/gnm-archive/2002/jun/06/1 [Accessed 29 Mar. 2019].
- the Guardian. (2019). Reach. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/advertising/2014/oct/01/reach [Accessed 29 Mar. 2019].