Hannah DeMilta recently caught up with Simon Crerar, editor of BuzzFeedOz.
Your most recent role was with News Corp as their visual story editor before becoming the Australian editor of BuzzFeed. What are the important experiences or lessons you brought with you from your most recent role?
My three years with News Corp gave me many fascinating insights into the readership of Australia’s most-popular news website and biggest selling papers. I learned a lot. I was tasked with discovering the very best national and international photography and sharing it with readers in Australia and overseas. We live in a highly visual age, often deciding what we read on the basis of the images we see on Facebook or Twitter. My ability to tell stories with pictures definitely helped prepare me for my role at BuzzFeed, where images are such an intrinsic part of our storytelling.
Topics and news with this audience move so quickly. How do you keep the pulse on what’s happening?
Like everyone working for BuzzFeed I spent a lot of time on sites such as Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, YouTube and Vine. Twitter is the best journalistic tool ever invented for its ability to take you directly to your sources. Facebook’s increasingly powerful NewsFeed is a great indicator of what’s driving discussion on the social web.
Where else do you seek inspiration in general (not necessarily for work) either online or offline?
My love affair with news began as a paperboy and I still adore print.
I subscribe to more magazines than I ever have time to read, including The Economist, Time, Monocle, National Geographic, Australian Geographic and Private Eye. My best ideas usually come to me when I don’t have a screen distracting me so I run, cycle or swim as much as possible.
BuzzFeed has developed a distinct post style, even to the point where other publications and websites have copied it. I’ve heard posts described as “BuzzFeed-style posts.” Do you see this as becoming a problem in the future? Will people get burnt out with this same style of content?
I wonder if people asked Gutenberg the same question: “Will people get burnt out with books?” Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and we’re always happy to explain how we create content. Lists and quizzes are incredibly powerful ways of sharing ideas and information. There are certainly “BuzzFeed-style posts” but we offer a myriad of other post styles once you dive in deeper.
Does BuzzFeed have to change very much for the Australian audience? Is there certain content that works better for this market?
Our core offering is shareable content that taps into our audiences sense of identity wherever they grew up or live now. The subject matter changes in Australia but the techniques are built on lessons learned over time by our colleagues in the US and UK.
What else can we expect for the localised version of BuzzFeed in the months to come?
Expect the unexpected! BuzzFeedOz only launched a few weeks ago so it will take us a bit of time to work out the types of content that really resonate with our audience, which makes for a lot of fun along the way. We receive fantastic feedback from our readers and are learning lessons all the time.
Okay, last question can be a goofy one. How many cute cat photos do you see on an average day?
Too many! I have a browser extension that turns any image of Tony Abbott into a cat. I’m actually more of a dog man than a cat lover (my Jack Russell’s are @LeoandClancy). At BuzzFeedOz we’re obsessed with quokkas and wombats as much as cats and dogs.
About our contributor // Hannah DeMilta is originally from Cleveland, Ohio but now lives in beautiful Sydney. She is passionate about travel, Laksa Thursdays, crafting, and meeting new people. Find her under @HannahDeMilta on Twitter and Instagram.