Mocking BuzzFeed, Jonah Peretti’s hyper-popular web site, is easy. Just start rattling off the titles of such exuberantly silly (and viral) articles as “Jeremy Lin has a Replica of His Jersey Made Entirely of Fruit Roll-Ups.” But Peretti, who helped found the Huffington Post before launching BuzzFeed in 2006, has a vision that’s expansive enough to incorporate shoe-leather reporting as well as cat photos. As many traditional news sources have cut back on serious coverage, Peretti has been investing in it: Former Politico reporter Ben Smith, hired at the end of 2011 as BuzzFeed’s editor in chief, oversaw coverage of the 2012 campaign which was better than that of some of its old media peers. Buzzfeed’s approach to advertising — instead of depending on banner ads, it helps sponsors create what are essentially fun, viral advertorials — helps it fund that quality content.
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