Ben Smith
Ben Smith
@nytimes media columnist. Fireworks enthusiast. Formerly @buzzfeednews. Beats working for a living. Send me scoops: ben.smith@nytimes.com.Source
Brooklyn, New York
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Goldman Sachs, Ozy Media and a $40 Million Conference Call Gone Wrong

Goldman Sachs, Ozy Media and a $40 Million Conference Call Gone Wrong

This past winter, Goldman Sachs was closing in on a $40 million investment in , a digital media company founded in 2013, and there seemed to be a lot of reasons to do the deal. boasted of a large audience for its general interest website, its newsletters and its videos, and the company had a charismatic chief executive, Carlos Watson, a onetime cable news anchor who had worked at Goldman Sachs early in his career. And, crucially, said it had a great relationship with YouTube, where many of its videos attracted more than a million views.That’s what the Zoom videoconference on Feb. 2 that Ozy...

Oct 4
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Why We’re Freaking Out About Substack

Why We’re Freaking Out About Substack

Danny Lavery had just agreed to a two-year, $430,000 contract with the newsletter platform Substack when I met him for coffee last week in Brooklyn, and he was deciding what to do with the money. “I think the thing that I’m the most looking forward to about this is to start a retirement account,” said Mr. Lavery, who founded the feminist humor blog The Toast and will be giving up an advice column in Slate. Mr. Lavery already has about 1,800 paying subscribers to his Substack newsletter, The Shatner Chatner, whose most popular piece is written from the perspective of a goose. Annual...

Apr 11
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We Worked Together on the Internet. Last Week, He Stormed the Capitol.

We Worked Together on the Internet. Last Week, He Stormed the Capitol.

At BuzzFeed, we followed the signals of social media. A young employee followed them all the way to Charlottesville and Capitol Hill. He fit in as well as anyone did at our Los Angeles studio, a place full of ambitious misfits with an unusual gift. They knew how to make web videos people wanted to watch. His real name was Anthime Joseph Gionet, though he preferred others. His value to BuzzFeed was clear: He’d do anything for the Vine, the short video platform that had a brief cultural moment before being crushed by Instagram and Snapchat in 2017. Once, he poured a gallon of milk on his...

Jan 11
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Beto O'Rourke Called Pete Buttigieg's Comments On Guns

Beto O'Rourke Called Pete Buttigieg's Comments On Guns

This is an excerpt from The Stakes 2020, BuzzFeed News' newsletter about what really matters in the 2020 campaign. This week I texted with Beto O'Rourke, the former congressman from El Paso, who captured the imagination of the Democratic Party in his Senate race last year but is struggling to carry that energy onto the national stage. Recently, he’s energized his campaign with blunt talk and a hard line on guns, and he's calling out other Democratic candidates — in this instance Pete Buttigieg — in direct terms.The South Bend mayor had O'Rourke's plan for a mandatory buy-back program for...

October 6, 2019
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The Real Democratic Primary Starts Now. And It’s All About Elizabeth Warren

The Real Democratic Primary Starts Now. And It’s All About Elizabeth Warren

It’s impossible, stupid, and likely embarrassing to predict who is going to win the Democratic presidential primary. But it’s already become clear who has shaped it: Elizabeth Warren. Warren, the 70-year-old Massachusetts senator, has put her agenda for structural change at the center of the 2020 campaign, helping turn the party’s center into its right and its radical left into a plausible alternative. She’s set the standard for how you run a presidential campaign and watched her rivals — including the men who typically place ahead of her in the polls — imitate her tactics. She’s the...

October 6, 2019
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