5 Things we learned when Buzzfeed interviewed David Cameron

Mandi Goodier

50 days before the general election David Cameron made a bizarre decision, an interview with internet aggregator Buzzfeed. This is what happened when the Prime Minister met Buzzfeed...

David Cameron faced a lot of stick from the UK's media with his refusal to partake in April's live televised debates. Interestingly enough, he did accept an interview with Buzzfeed, which was live streamed on their facebook feed on the 16th March. The very next day he announced that he would participate in one of the three of April's debates. Did the Buzzfeed interview backfire or was this sheer coincidence?

Previously, uber positive, youth-centric, listicle pioneers Buzzfeed had appeared unsympathetic to Cameron's campaign. Not one to dish out negs willy-nilly, Buzzfeed subtly disguised its anti-tory sentiment in articles such as 26 Creative Ways To Insult David Cameron On Twitter—which contains popular tweets such as "F**k off dish face" a grand total of nine times, and a further 145 comments adding to the insults. When you compare this to other party leaders such as 17 Times Ed Miliband Delighted Us in 2014—which, to be fair, contained about as much politics as 17 Puppies For Anyone Having A Bad Day—it makes you wonder whose side they're on anyway. When you analyse both articles neither party leaders don't come off well, and when it comes to politics, nor did Buzzfeed.

The Buzzfeed and David Cameron interview marks a departure for both. For David Cameron he'd be able to get the 18-34-year old, engaged demographic Buzzfeed offers; the demographic politicians are constantly trying to tap into with the idea that older voters are loyal, youth voters can be swayed by tie-less suits, unbuttoned collars, and a an inkling of hipness (when will they get that liking of the Arctic Monkeys or The Horrors is absolutely transparent and cringe-worthy?!). For Buzzfeed this is consistent with their recent activity towards trying to be taken more seriously as a news outlet. They've taken on new 'serious' journalists, hugely expanded their political and worldwide news output beyond listicles—it's actually quite difficult to find the aforementioned Cameron and Miliband articles through a Buzzfeed search, although Google still ranks them both highly, and the reason these rank so highly? Because they are more popular than the newsy style articles Buzzfeed are currently churning out. The Guardian have even speculated that this attempt at credibility is an attempt to attract advertisers.

The two face the same challenge: converting an audience founded on lists of cute cats, and which-Game-Of-Thrones-character-are-you style personality quizzes into politically engaged individuals. Buzzfeed turned to Facebook, asking them what questions they'd like to have answered by the Prime Minister andconsequently opened the doors to an onslaught of verbal abuse from a disenfranchised, angry youth. It wasn't looking good for either party. 

 

5 Things we Learned From the Buzzfeed vs David Cameron Interview

1. This cat is more popular than David Cameron
Buzzfeed cat vs David Cameron

One might speculate that streaming the interview live on Facebook was done to encourage live discussion. It didn't work. Like-for-like, Buzzfeed's audience were more interested in this cat post. They may have found a formula for virality when it comes to listicles, but they're having a tough time making it work for the things that matter.

 

2. Interviewer Jim Waterson is a mini Paxman in the making

Alright he may not be there yet, but the cutting questions of this 25-year old political editor sets him on the right path. From the outset he looked like he wasn't going to hold any punches. Perhaps his most challenging moment, on criticising the Prime Minister's attitudes towards a majority Government:

"But isn’t that essentially deceiving the public by pretending that something is going to happen when there is almost no chance of it happening?"

 

3. David Cameron is aware of the creative ways in which people insult him on Twitter

"Well, you have got to take the rough with the smooth with this job!" 

He also went on to explain the statement "too many tweets make a tw*t", aware that his public image is scrutinised constantly, sometimes it's best to hold back from social media.

 

4. The "which is your fave Game of Thrones character" question was a little misjudged

On the whole Buzzfeed's audience were silent, until this question was asked, at which point they flared up.

 David Cameron's favourite Game of Thrones Character

 

5. Buzzfeed aren't the most important news outlet in the world... yet

Questions were asked about housing, living wage, trans rights, data encryption and mental health. Everything the PM said in this interview, well we've heard it all before.

As a youth voter, have my opinions of Mr. Cameron changed? No. Did Buzzfeed manage to humanise him? Slightly. Do I think Buzzfeed are now the best youth news broadcaster out there? Jury's still out, I think the ground work they are doing is fantastic, but they are going to struggle to compete with their own listicles.

 

Listen to the commentary on the Reader's Digest Podcast

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Watch the Buzzfeed interview:

Top image: 

Drop of Light / Shutterstock.com