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WHY CAN’T THE BBC.COM DRAW AS MANY VIEWERS AS BUZZFEED?

May 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The success of Buzzfeed has likely generated envy and dismay at most established news organizations. In less than eight years it now accounts for more readers than some of the world’s greatest publications. That fact has not been lost on former CBS and Sony Chairman Howard Stringer, who, in a report commissioned by the BBC and issued on Wednesday, said that BBC News has a lot to learn from Buzzfeed. Of course, there is little on Buzzfeed’s site that would qualify as hard news. Today’s list of stories include: “Jennifer Lawrence Drunkenly Puked in Front of Miley Cyrus;” “10 Things Your Fave Disney Characters Do in Their Downtime;” “27 Ways to Satisfy Your Cookie Dough Obsession;” and “Porn that Is Totally Suitable for Work.” But Stringer points out, “This is not about dumbing down. … It is about having an acute understanding of the audience and making news relevant to them.” What may be overlooked by those reading Stringer’s report is the fact that BBC News has one of the largest online readerships in the world — 150 million in March, more than most newspapers and more than CNN.com. But Stringer apparently believes it could do far better. “The sites that are growing quickly — whether it is Vice or Buzzfeed or Upworthy — are the ones that have a really distinctive character,” he said. “The BBC needs to think about how it can add character and personality.” Among his proposals is that the BBC should launch an international opinion service; that the BBC build a partnership with mobile operators to pre-load BBC News apps onto handsets and that it shift its focus from traditional broadcasting to mobile broadband. “By 2022 the BBC should be mobile first in every country,” he wrote.