This morning BuzzFeed broke a story of epic proportions. Not only for the world of tennis, the focus of the story, but potentially also for the publisher.
Their story of how tennis matches have been fixed by betting syndicates was broken with the BBC, with whom BuzzFeed conducted the investigation. And I can't help but see this as a deliberate, strategic play.
BuzzFeed have made it a goal for the past couple of years to move beyond the "16 great things Kim Kardashian Does With Broccolli" posts that have made it a huge success with Millennials into the world of hard-hitting news. The question has been how to do this.
The amount of time and effort that has been put into this post is huge:
- Buzzfeed analysed 26,000 tennis matches over 15 months
- They worked with the BBC, the world's largest journalism organisation, over that period to gain access to files they would otherwise never have seen
- According to the research documentation they worked with sports-betting investigators and the ATP to make sure their analysis was watertight
In short, publishing this article wasn't a staff writer's everyday decision it was a strategic use of resources. And it seems to have paid off.
On BBC Radio 3 news this morning I heard BuzzFeed mentioned in every bulletin for two hours: eight mentions. They are named eight times in the BBC's leading article. The story has been picked up by sources like The Drum, Reuters, and The Bleacher Report, all of whom mention their original sources. They're on the front page of The Telegraph and The Times' sports section. If you want to be taken seriously by the world, coverage by respected, established sources like these is a damn good start.