If I’m going to be honest, I’m not a fan of writing obituaries.
It’s hard to quantify the impact of someone’s life in a short space, so it feels nearly impossible to capture the impact of an entire newsroom in a final editor’s note. It’s staggering to think about what BuzzFeed News was able to accomplish in just over a decade of existence, which was punctuated by countless journalism awards, including a Pulitzer Prize in 2021.
Our reporting led to the release of innocent people from prison, changed laws, and held power to account, all while making people laugh by pointing out the absurdity of life online and making others very, very angry about seemingly innocuous things. We helped expose R. Kelly’s alleged sex cult; published a searing letter from a Stanford assault victim that sparked a national conversation on campus sexual assault; ran the first interview with an actor who shared his account of an alleged assault by actor Kevin Spacey; created a seismic cultural moment across the world with the words “millennial burnout”; and documented a series of assassinations in the UK with alleged ties to the Kremlin, which became a Pulitzer finalist and a stirring docuseries.
We could do it all — and we did it with ease. Obituaries written about us in other publications have noted that we were the first newsroom to treat internet life as real life, which led to a sea change at legacy media companies. Our alums are scattered across every major media organization in the world. At first it made us nervous to have other outlets constantly coming for our talent, but then it made us proud. Those reporters and editors took what they learned at BuzzFeed News — what I like to call “chaotic good” — and changed the DNA of wherever they went.
We recently published an oral history by the people who powered this pirate ship of “intense but friendly” creative geniuses that is well worth a read. It’s hardly definitive — there’s just too much ground to cover. But what I can say without hesitation is that it’s been an honor to work alongside colleagues who were passionately committed to telling the truth and making people feel seen and heard, all while mentoring and supporting each other in the process. We were all coming up together and there will never be any other newsroom like it.
I’m grateful I had a chance to be a part of BuzzFeed News for over seven years. And for a short time, I had the incredible opportunity to be at the helm.
Thank you so much for being our supporters and readers. Knowing we had the possibility of effecting change kept us going — especially during the most overwhelming days inside the news cycle.
Our archives aren’t going away and our stories will remain as true and meaningful as the day we published them. Even though we’re shutting down, the internet lasts forever — so in a way, we will too. — Karolina Waclawiak, Editor-in-Chief