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With AM2DM, BuzzFeed Reinvents the Broadcast Journalism Wheel

Sixteen floors above the north end of Union Square in New York City sits BuzzFeed’s latest reinvention of modern news: AM2DM, a live morning show spearheaded by Cindy Vanegas-Gusuale, BuzzFeed News’ head of programming, and Shani Hilton, BuzzFeed News’ VP of news and programming. Before I launch into how innovative AM2DM is, I should preface by saying that three years ago I declared to anybody who would listen that mobile video was going to transform the way we consume video content, and especially, news content. 

Turns out I was right (surprise, surprise), and with Executive Producer Patrick McMenamin in the front seat, BuzzFeed News has officially entered the foray of broadcast journalism – only, you won’t find AM2DM on channel 5 or 10 or whatever station the cable networks use. You’ll find it on your Twitter feed, which is exactly where BuzzFeed wants to be.

“Young viewers are spending their time on mobile devices and I don’t think the TV news industry in general has figured out how to reach them,” said McMenamin. “Fact of the matter is mobile devices are the future and we need to find a way to tap into the conversations people are already having on those devices.”

And McMenamin is right. At some point, people are going to stop watching content on living room TV sets. The data is already showing that to be the likely case. According to an eMarketer report on Q1 2018 digital video trends, mobile video consumption is continuing its steady market growth. The report estimates 65.1 percent of internet users worldwide will be watching digital video by the end of 2018, and that figure climbs to 67.5 percent by 2021.

With 1.8 billion people expected to watch digital video via a mobile device at least once per month in 2018, there is no doubt that BuzzFeed’s programming will benefit from the continuing trend. But beyond the actual numbers, what makes AM2DM so fresh is the forged connection between news brand and news consumer that comes from hosting on a platform like Twitter.

“I think we have a strong sense of who our audience is because they tweet at us. We have a conversation with them, we follow each other,” McMenamin said.

AM2DM uses that audience to deliver, in some sense, curated content for Twitter. By grabbing trending topics, AM2DM drives news based on what is already being discussed. For example, when major outlets were talking predominantly about Donald Trump, AM2DM hosts Saeed Jones (@theferocity) and Isaac Fitzgerald (@IsaacFitzgerald) spent a whole 10 minute segment on the suspension of Rose McGowan’s twitter account – a story that later received big traction. Why? Because that’s what Twitter users were talking about, it’s what they wanted to hear about.

But Twitter has long been a part of BuzzFeed’s DNA. Whereas other news orgs were late to the game, BuzzFeed has been using the platform since its infancy to capture a viral audience. It’s the kind of organic marketing tactic that helped launch BuzzFeed into mainstream discourse. 

According to Roxanne Emadi, head of audience development, the AM2DM Twitter account nabbed over 5000 followers in the first day alone with the tweet, “PROOF: Tucker Carlson looks at all his guests like they’re eating mayonnaise straight out the jar.”

Classic BuzzFeed, of course.

“Having a fun relationship between news, politics, and entertainment is just what we do,” said Emadi.

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