BuzzFeed News Expands to Mexico, Germany in Push for New Readers

  • Outlet will focus on covering elections, feminism, gay rights
  • BuzzFeed Germany to be led by founder of non-profit newsroom

BuzzFeed News is expanding into Mexico and Germany as the digital publisher seeks new readers overseas and prepares to cover national elections in both countries.

BuzzFeed Germany and BuzzFeed Mexico will hire journalists in those countries to cover local issues and write in their native languages, with some stories being translated into English, Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith said in an interview.

Many online media companies, including the Huffington Post, Business Insider and Vox Media, are expanding internationally in a quest for online readers and advertising. The New York Times unveiled a Spanish-language digital edition last year to attract more online readers outside the U.S.

Smith sees opportunities for both newsrooms to collaborate with the company’s U.S.-based reporters on stories of global significance. BuzzFeed Inc. already attracts large audiences in Mexico and Germany for entertainment content, and has a handful of employees in both countries. But readers are largely unfamiliar with its journalism, he said. Germany’s election is in September. Mexico’s election will be in 2018.

“There’s a global political storm under way and these countries are very much a part of it,” Smith said. “These are markets where we feel like we have really huge traction.”

Besides politics, BuzzFeed will cover stories in Mexico and Germany like feminism and gay rights that “are still treated by the mainstream media as afterthoughts,” Smith said.

German Editor

BuzzFeed Germany will be led by editor-in-chief Daniel Drepper, who was co-founder of Correctiv, a non-profit investigative newsroom. Drepper starts April 1. He’ll oversee a small team of breaking news and beat reporters in Berlin and will hire more journalists during the year, Smith said.

BuzzFeed Mexico is still hiring journalists and searching for a head of news.

While BuzzFeed is famous for its quizzes and listicles that get shared widely on Facebook, it has built news operations with professional journalists around the world, including bureaus in London, Paris, Sao Paulo, Sydney and Tokyo. The company has about 275 editors and reporters.

Earlier this year, BuzzFeed published an unverified dossier describing alleged connections between President Donald Trump and the Russian government. A Russian technology executive named in the dossier filed a defamation suit against BuzzFeed, and Trump has denied any connection to Russia. Smith defended the decision in a recent opinion column in the New York Times.

To help fund its growth, BuzzFeed raised $400 million in the past year and a half through two investments from Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal. The closely held company is exploring a possible initial public offering year, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the plans haven’t been publicly announced.

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