Another week, another newsworthy hire at BuzzFeed. Today, the rapidly expanding social news site announced the hire of Doree Shafrir as executive editor from RollingStone.com, where she was a senior editor.
Ben Smith, BuzzFeed’s new editor in chief whose hiring from Politico last month made its own big splash, said he was a longtime fan of Shafrir’s going back to the days when he was at the New York Daily News and she was a writer at Gawker. (Fellow Gawker Media alums Matt Cherette and Whitney Jefferson also recently joined BuzzFeed as editors.)
“She was someone I always liked,” he said. “I would email her stuff and hope she would pick it up. She also got politics better than a lot of folks, even though it wasn’t her primary beat. … She was one of the first people I reached out to after I got the job [at BuzzFeed].”
This marks the second big departure this week for Wenner Media, which lost Men's Journal publisher Michael Wolfe to The Week.
Shafrir said it was “the opportunity to build something new that's informed by BuzzFeed's content and sensibility … and to be a part in the growth of the social Web” that convinced her to leave Rolling Stone for the growing site.
At BuzzFeed, she said, she’ll focus on “launching culture-based verticals, including hiring new editors and writers, and contributing myself,” although Smith added that he might have to “rope her into editing some politics stuff.”
Although BuzzFeed is placing a premium on growing its own content—and recently raised $15.5 million to help with that effort—Smith said the site had no plans to abandon viral media.
“I thought there would be this culture clash,” Smith said of his decision to take the site in a new direction. “But the reporters we’ve hired … are totally fluent in this viral culture. They get that gifs are a totally appropriate way of capturing a weird debate moment, rather than five paragraphs describing the way Ron Paul moves his hands.”
“I think they'll complement each other and co-exist happily,” agreed Shafrir, “and they'll both help take the site to the next level.”