BuzzFeed editor calls for ‘new rules’ to cover Trump administration

Charley Gallay/Getty Images for BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed News made headlines earlier this month for publishing an unverified dossier about alleged connections between President Donald Trump and Russia, and according to the website's editor, that might be the new standard for reporting on this White House.

In a New York Times editorial posted Monday, BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith called for "new rules" to be established in journalism that support sometimes publishing "unverified information in a transparent way."

Smith wrote:

[W]e need to develop new rules that adhere to the core values of honesty and respect for our audience. That means debunking falsehoods, and being transparent with readers about our process of reporting. Sometimes, it means publishing unverified information in a transparent way that informs our users of its provenance, its impact and why we trust or distrust it.

In addition, Smith used the op-ed to defend BuzzFeed News' decision to publish the controversial 35-page report on Trump.

"You trust us to give you the full story; we trust you to reckon with a messy, sometimes uncertain reality," he wrote, later adding:

Our audience inhabits a complex, polluted information environment; our role is to help them navigate it — not to pretend it doesn’t exist. The need to show our work and earn trust has never been more important, since once reliable official sources are peddling “alternative facts” — as the White House press secretary did Saturday.

Trump, for his part, has denied the allegations in the BuzzFeed report, which assert "that the Russian government has been 'cultivating, supporting and assisting' [him] for years."

In a press conference in early January, the president called BuzzFeed a "failing pile of garbage" for its posting of the dossier and refused to take a question from CNN, which reported on the BuzzFeed report, telling network reporter Jim Acosta that his outlet is "fake news."

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