“Why I Left BuzzFeed” videos created by ex-employees is going viral on social media.
The videos explain why these young media talents left the listicle gossip site.
Among the many reasons expressed in the videos…recurring themes include wanting more creative control and ownership of work; BuzzFeed’s policies prohibiting outside projects; and feeling burned out from the pressure of constantly trying to hit high view counts.
The confessional videos have amassed millions of views, as interest surrounding the inner workings of the media company’s content factory are exposed to outside eyes.
Of course, for media companies, talent comings-and-goings are certainly nothing new. What’s different about BuzzFeed is that it grooms its video producers to make identity-based content, so their instincts are to document their career change — in a public forum. They’re also more likely than, say, former “Saturday Night Live” cast members to attempt to leverage the fan base they’ve amassed at BuzzFeed for their own digital content (as popular BuzzFeed personality Matt Bellassai decided to do a year ago).
And, ironically, they’re making “Why I Left BuzzFeed” videos because BuzzFeed has trained them to focus on creating stuff that can go viral.
For Chris Reinacher, who said he made more than four hours of video during his stint at BuzzFeed, the primary problem was the mind-numbing requirement to be a jack-of-all-trades — writing, shooting, acting in and producing the short-form videos. Mainly, “I started thinking, if I wasn’t multitasking all the time, maybe I’d be able to make some better content,” Reinacher said in his “Why I Left BuzzFeed” video last week.
“To BuzzFeed, in a lot of cases quantity trumps quality,” ex-employee Kenny Moffitt said in an August 2016 video. He left because “I wanted to have more control over my videos, I wanted to focus on my own channel… and I have been so much happier.” Working 8-9 hours daily at BuzzFeed didn’t leave time to work on other projects, he noted.
Asked to comment on the trend of ex-employees airing their grievances, a BuzzFeed rep told Variety, “We’re happy to have played a role in launching these people’s careers, and we wish them the best.”
What’s behind the spurt of BuzzFeed employees sharing details of their exits? For one thing, it’s proven to be a reliable traffic generator, especially for a fledgling YouTuber striking out on his or her own. “Excited for my new video, ‘Why I Left BuzzFeed,’” popular YouTuber Phil DiFranco tweeted on Monday. “I’ve never worked there, but it seems like the easiest way to get 2 million views.”
The “Why I Left BuzzFeed” meme has even inspired a rash of parody videos — aimed at riding the viral tide — including several choleric BuzzFeed-bashing videos from a British YouTuber who goes by Chubbs.
The friction between BuzzFeed and its video employees has come to a head in the past year: The company has fired employees for working on non-BuzzFeed projects. Last June, writer-producer-actor Jenny Lorenzo and Brittany Ashley (who worked on BuzzFeed’s popular series “You Do You” and wrote the script for the first season) were let go for allegedly violating their exclusive contracts with BuzzFeed after they appeared in a web series produced by America Ferrara. Sources familiar with BuzzFeed say it’s re-evaluating the terms of how it works with creators in such situations in the future.