Politics

Buzzfeed Editor Stressed Importance Of ‘Politically Neutral Organizations’ In 2014 [AUDIO]

Christian Datoc Audience Development Manager

The news that Buzzfeed has backed out of a $1.3 million advertising deal with the RNC would appear to run contrary to comments Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith made back in 2014 regarding journalists who wear their politics on their sleeves.

Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti sent an internal memo on Monday detailing how the website cannot promote Trump for ideological reasons. However, back in a 2014 interview with conservative radio host Hew Hewitt, Smith stressed the importance for news organizations to maintain a neutral political stance. (RELATED: Buzzfeed Backs Out Of RNC Ad Deal Because Trump Hurts Employees’ Feelings)

“I have this whole theory that, for a while in the 2000s, all the good jobs for young journalists were on the left and the right,” Smith told Hewitt. “And then actually, really, since the start of Politico, there’s kind of a recentralization, like there are jobs for essentially politically neutral organizations again.”

“I don’t hire people that want to be ideologues,” he continued. “I think it does hurt you as a reporter if you’re out there — yeah I think it can limit who’s going to talk to you and who’s going to trust you.”

Smith further expressed how adopting a political editorial stance can lead people to “not see you as an honest broker.”

“I think you can just so easily lead yourself to see what you want to see and not be talking to people who can check you,” he added. “I think that it’s important that your sources trust you and see you as neutral.”

“A lot of good journalists, like I think myself, are basically kind of wishy-washy on a lot of the policy issues… Why box yourself in?”

When asked about whether Buzzfeed’s decision to back out of the RNC ad deal runs contrary to his comments on “ideologues” in journalism, Smith referred TheDC to the statement he released earlier on Monday: “This was Jonah’s call, and the prerogative of a publisher.”

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