Ben Smith is BuzzFeed’s Editor-in-Chief. Since joining the company in January 2012, Smith has built a newsroom of more than 200 reporters and editors, led expansion of over 20 content verticals, and built teams across the world. Under his leadership, BuzzFeed’s coverage has grown to include politics, business, investigative reporting, longform journalism, and entertainment while growing the site’s traffic to over 150M monthly unique visitors.
Prior to BuzzFeed, Smith was senior political writer for Politico from 2007 to 2011. Before Politico, he wrote a column and a blog for the New York Daily News, started New York’s first political blog, The Politicker, wrote for the New York Observer, as well as the political site, Room Eight, after working as City Hall Bureau Chief for the New York Sun.
Smith has written for publications including the Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Slate, The New York Post, and The New Republic. He was born and raised in Manhattan, and now lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three children.
Hi, what’s your name?
Where do you hail from?
Who do you work for?
Tell us a bit about you – how did you get to where you are today?
I was a stringer in Eastern Europe for a couple years after school, then started as a political reporter in New York. I started a few New York political blogs while at the Observer and Daily News, then moved over to Politico when it launched and covered the Clinton and Obama campaign; I was there for 5 years. As the conversation shifted to the social web, I had the opportunity to build BuzzFeed’s editorial division, which I’ve been doing since 2012.
I live in Brooklyn with my wife, Liena Zagare, who runs a network of local news sites there, and my 3 kids, who are pretty much my only extracurricular activity.
What are your career highlights?
I loved covering local politics and covering the 2012 election; but I remain just inspired every day but the quality of people we’ve been able to recruit at BuzzFeed and how smart, aggressive, and creative they are. There are way too many stories to list, but some highlights include the way we broke through with a small team covering the 2012 election in the United States; our recent coverage of the crisis in Ukraine and ebola in Liberia; and the constant technical and formal innovation of writers on our “Buzz” side, who made quizzes the biggest thing on the internet for a time this year.
The nicest thing anyone’s ever said about me was when the media critic Jack Shafer wrote that I “break news the way rioters break glass: Frequently and with glee”
Who or what inspires you to get out of bed in the morning?
The opportunity to break news, tell new stories, surprise and delight readers, and to be surprised by the news.
Which other storytellers do you admire?
Machado de Assis, John Le Carre, Sarah Stillman, Mark Schoofs
What do you plan to share at Storyology?
In broad terms: Why it makes perfect sense to have rankings of corgis and war coverage under the same banner.
Where can we find you?
Facebook: Ben Smith
Ben Smith appears at Storyology with the support of BuzzFeed.