Is BuzzFeed Really America’s ‘Least Trusted’ News Source?

The study that has everyone’s attention in the media world today concerns trust and political ideology.

Depending on your affiliation and your favorite outlets, the extensive Pew Research Journalism Project survey could be seen as either a good or bad thing: more American readers of various political persuasions trust The Wall Street Journal than any other publication, and CNN/Fox remain the biggest/most trusted sources of TV news (which is great for Brian Stelter).

We’re not too concerned with party politics, though. We’re most interested in the fact that the pubs with the smallest divide between “trust” and “distrust” were PBS and WSJ, while the pub with the largest difference between those numbers was…BuzzFeed. Here’s the chart:

mediaPolarization-10

So does this survey encourage doubts about the value of placements on BuzzFeed?

We have to say no.

First, note the exclusion of certain newer pubs like VICE and Gawker. Then note that the most common answer on the BuzzFeed question was, by far, “never heard of it” — which makes us wonder about the average age of the survey’s 2,901 participants. Finally, compare the “neither trust nor distrust” answer (21%) to the same response for different outlets.

Most people do not think of BuzzFeed as a distinctly political site, and it’s not the first place they go for “news” news. That’s not such a bad thing, because the people who pay the most attention to politics are also…you guessed it…the most aggressively partisan.

In an email to Poynter, BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith writes:

“Our organization is new, our news operation is even newer, and it’s early days for us. The more people know BuzzFeed News, especially young people who make up a small share of these surveys, the more they trust us.”

So keep pitching to BuzzFeed writers and follow its newly reorganized PR team. Just don’t use it as a place to try and convince young people to support your political ideology…unless that ideology involves all the news about gay marriage that you can fit in a single vertical.