12:00 pm Sep. 20, 20121
BuzzFeed, the viral meme generator founded by Jonah Peretti and brought to prominence in the "real news" cycle by editor-in-chief Ben Smith, is now advertising the position of "longform editor"—someone "who can assign, edit and occasionally write reported narrative features — and who wants to help us figure out how to make long, reported articles work on the social web."
We asked for a bit of color beyond the job description.
"Long-form pieces — assigning them, editing them, finding great art for them — are very time- and resource-consuming," said Doree Shafrir, the site's culture editor and the author of a recent BuzzFeed long-form essay about night terrors. "It seemed to make sense to have someone who could be able to devote all of his or her time to getting them right."
That Smith has room in his budget for a "longform editor" (did that title even exist until now?) shows just how far Peretti is willing to stretch the $15.5 million he raised in January to build up the site's editorial operations. And the investment is yet another sign, along with BuzzFeed's campaign correspondents and its proliferating news verticals and its track record of luring high-profile journalistic talent, that Peretti's fuzzy-cat-pictures factory has grown up, even if it still regularly pimps out slideshows about topics like "All 32 NFL quarterbacks & Their Muppet Dopplegangers" and "20 Crazy Events You Won't Believe Are f'real."
But even amid all of the click bait, there are features like Michael Hastings' July profile of Jose Antonio Vargas, or McKay Coppins' Glenn Beck interview from June. Asked how long-form articles have generally performed on BuzzFeed so far, Shafrir pointed us to the site's public traffic and social stats. Her night terrors piece, for instance, which clocked in at more than 7,000 words but was promoted with the deceivingly simple headline, "Can you die from a nightmare?," had been viewed 102,785 times in about two weeks, with 413 Facebook shares, 481 Facebook "likes," 349 tweets and 93 emails. "Branded For Life," a recent longform piece on the site's tech vertical, meanwhile, was no. 2 on BuzzFeed's "Hot" list, with 165,563 views, 605 Facebook shares, 1,200 "likes," 585 tweets and 14 emails.
The goal is to make all BuzzFeed's long-form content hit that big.
"Quality stuff will, generally, find an audience," said Shafrir. "But we'd like to figure out both how to produce the best quality stuff and what stories become the most shareable."
If you're up for the challenge, the job requires a minimum of "five years' experience editing and assigning feature-length stories," as well as a few other key traits: "High emotional intelligence," "a positive, curious, playful disposition (no haters)," and, of course, "a competitive drive -- you enjoy winning, really going for it."
[Disclosure: Shafrir and I worked together at The New York Observer.]
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