Ben Smith became editor in chief of BuzzFeed in 2011 when the website known for its listicles and cat photos got into the business of breaking news. Smith, an early hire at Politico, immediately built a reporting staff. The website, a mix of news and frivolity, attracts more than 40 million visitors a month. During a talk at the Nieman Foundation, Smith discussed social media as a news distribution channel, the importance of editors, the evolution of beats, the new hegemony of the article as a unit of media, and the value of brevity and high-energy reporters.

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