Jan 28, 2020

Ben Smith leaving BuzzFeed to take over NYT media column

BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Ben Smith, the longtime editor of BuzzFeed News, is leaving the company that he helped build and define after eight years to join the New York Times as a media columnist.

Why it matters: Smith is credited with having developed one of the most aggressive news operations created specifically for the internet generation.

  • Under his lead, BuzzFeed News grew to include more than 200 editorial staffers, became a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and broke some of the biggest stories in politics, tech and culture of the decade.
  • He will take over for Jim Rutenberg, who was recently reassigned, to fill the column that once belonged to the revered media scribe, the late David Carr.

Details: According to Smith, the decision was made following ongoing conversations with the Times for the past couple of months. After eight years of managing a newsroom, he was eager to get back to writing and reporting.

  • "I am so proud of what we did here and how strong the newsroom has become," Smith tells Axios. "Jonah [Peretti] has been very supportive of news here."
  • "It’s been the privilege of my life to do this job, in its many iterations, for more than eight years," Smith said in a memo to staff on Tuesday.
  • Smith plans to cover the intersections of media and politics, and media and tech. He explained that he hopes to do breaking news.
  • "I like scoops," he adds.

What's next: Smith starts at the Times in early March. He said in the staff memo that he will be "around this month" to help with the transition.

Go deeper

#MeToo hits the banking industry

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The banking world was rocked this week with two major headlines: One, that Wells Fargo is dropping its mandatory arbitration clause for employee sexual harassment complaints; and two, that a former employee of PNC won a $2.4 million jury award in her harassment case against the bank.

Why it matters: Originally, the #MeToo movement was largely focused on the media and entertainment worlds, before migrating to technology companies. Now it looks like commercial banks are in the crosshairs, too.

"Should be on Fake News CNN": Trump attacks Fox News' Chris Wallace

President Trump. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump slammed Fox News on Tuesday, attacking the network for inviting Democrats as guests and singling out anchor Chris Wallace.

"So, what the hell has happened to @FoxNews. Only I know! Chris Wallace and others should be on Fake News CNN or MSDNC. How’s Shep Smith doing? Watch, this will be the beginning of the end for Fox, just like the other two which are dying in the ratings. Social Media is great!"
Go deeperArrowJan 28, 2020

McConnell-tied PAC funds ads to disrupt N.C. Democratic Senate primary

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Senate Leadership Fund, a political action committee linked to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is funding ads aimed at disrupting North Carolina's Democratic Senate primary, AP reports.

Why it matters: The seat currently held by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) is a primary target for Democrats in 2020 as they aim to flip the Senate. The McConnell-backed ads are aimed to support state Sen. Erica Smith at the expense of former state Sen Cal Cunningham, who has the backing of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.