BuzzFeed News Parts Ways With Three Entertainment Staffers After Identifying ‘Holes’ in Harvey Weinstein Coverage

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BuzzFeed News is changing its approach to covering the entertainment biz — after top editors perceived that the site trailed on coverage of the Harvey Weinstein scandal — and three members of the editorial staff are exiting the company with the new strategy.

Departing the company are entertainment editor Jaimie Etkin, who had been with BuzzFeed News for four years and has headed the website’s Hollywood coverage, along with deputy entertainment editor Katie Hasty and senior entertainment editor Jarett Wieselman.

“The holes in our Weinstein coverage made clear that we needed to change the way we cover entertainment to put ourselves in a position to tell great stories,” Shani Hilton, BuzzFeed’s head of U.S. news, wrote in a memo to staff outlining the changes Thursday.

Under the new structure, BuzzFeed News’ entertainment coverage will be in three areas, according to Hilton’s memo:

  • An in-depth reporting and analysis team, reporting to deputy entertainment editor Kovie Biakolo, focused on the entertainment industry and “cultural conversations like those about race and gender issues in Hollywood”;
  • A breaking news team, overseen by weekend editor David Mack, focused specifically on scoops in the entertainment biz; and
  • An entertainment enterprise team, led by ‎senior features editor Marisa Carroll.

Read Hilton’s memo, which was obtained by Variety:

Hi everyone–

I’m writing to update you on a shift in the our entertainment coverage, in order to align the team with BuzzFeed News’s core mission of telling tough, important stories.

Over the past few years, the BuzzFeed News Entertainment team has worked diligently to keep us up to date on the latest in TV, movies, and celebrity and industry news, delight us with smart takes on the latest in Hollywood, and keep us primed on what shows we should — or should not — be spending our time watching.

But, as we’ve seen since the election — and in entertainment stories like our great R. Kelly coverage and most of all the Weinstein scandal — the crucial stories sit at the intersection of entertainment, culture, politics and media. The holes in our Weinstein coverage made clear that we needed to change the way we cover entertainment to put ourselves in a position to tell great stories. Our audience wants to see how changing social norms, gender dynamics, and political issues are being reflected in their culture and entertainment, and Ben [Smith, BuzzFeed editor-in-chief] and I firmly believe that BuzzFeed News should be leading that coverage.

What does that mean in practice? Moving forward, we’ll be splitting our entertainment reporting into three distinct areas: one team, which will report into Kovie Biakolo, will be dedicated to in-depth reporting and analysis of the entertainment industry — honing in on cultural conversations like those about race and gender issues in Hollywood and helping us and our audience navigate what’s worth our time. In addition, we’ll be adding a breaking news team, overseen by David Mack, focused specifically on entertainment news and harvesting scoops on the biggest stories of the day coming out of film, tv, music, and pop culture; and an entertainment enterprise team that will report into Marisa Carroll, who was the editor responsible for bringing Jim DeRogatis’s big R. Kelly investigation over the finish line.

I want to thank, in particular, Jaimie Etkin, who has steered the team for several years and is now moving on to new challenges. We’re excited to continue to deliver the important stories that break through with our audience.