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Shallow News Site Satire

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"The Internet. The power of infinite knowledge, only a click away. A tool to transform the world and unite every being. And this is what they do with it!"

Penny: FuzzBeat?
Kady: It's, like, a website. They do serious news and cat videos at the same time.
Penny: That's fucking dumb.

A "news" site, but it's cool and appeals to the youth — which is to say that it doesn't do much news at all.

This is a specific type of Fictional Counterpart that arose in The New '10s, riffing most prominently on Buzzfeed and other journalism enterprises that are mostly online such as Vice, Vox, and those under the G/O Media umbrella (A/V Club, io9, Kotaku, Gizmodo, etc). Specifically, it parodies or satirizes such online publications by portraying them as hip and trendy but also shallow. The staff of such sites will be populated by clueless young hipster bloggers more concerned with fun or Immoral Journalists more concerned with clicks and revenue than creating honest content, and its audience will similarly be attention-deficient youths and/or extremely bored people.

The site will consist of about 2% serious news and opinion columns and 98% memes, listicles, articles with funny clickbait headlines, and cat videos; writers will always be pressured to create viral content that generates revenue over actual newsworthy topics. Its offices will be a Wacky Startup Workplace with lots of space and amenities, helping it look cutting-edge and modern. If a character gets a job here, it will never be portrayed as a 'serious' enterprise compared to those respectable print media places, and their job security will always be tenuous.

Compare Fictional Social Network, Social Media Is Bad, News Parody.


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    Comic Books 
  • In Faith (Valiant Comics), Faith works at "Zipline", a Buzzfeed parody that churns out quizzes and listicles. She hates it, but has no other recourse, as blogging is the only thing she can actually put on her civilian resume.

    Fan Works 
  • In Recommencer (Miraculous Ladybug), Ashli mistakes the Ladyblog for one, due to Alya's stubborn refusal to do any research and increasingly Skewed Priorities when it comes to subject matter. She comments to a friend on how the quality of the satire has gone downhill to the point that it's hard to tell how ironic she's being, unaware that Alya is perfectly serious in her assertations about how LadyNoir 'can still win' or defending Lila's Blatant Lies.

    Films — Live Action 
  • Love Hard: Natalie writes for a social media company named "Soash Media". What we see of it is in a trendy building and her boss, Lee, works out while talking to her. Lee describes the website as a reminder of what life could be (either better, or so much worse).
  • Pokémon Detective Pikachu has a variation. Lucy is an unpaid intern at a major news network, but she's stuck writing fluff for its shallow blogging arm. She wants to be a serious journalist, but she's instead writing listicles all day.
    Lucy: I work for the CNM Blog, making Pokémon lists all day, okay? "Top 10 Cutest Pokémon".
    Tim: Yeah, my grandma loves those.
    Lucy: Yeah, newsflash: they're all cute! Such a waste of time for someone with my nose for a story.

  • Louise is obsessed with one of these in Tara Isabella Burton's debut novel, Social Creature, which is called Misandry! in a thinly veiled parody of Jezebel. It's portrayed as a shallow women's rights blog with "trashy" articles. She eventually ends up working for them after she falls in with Lavinia's glamorous, wealthy, and very vapid friends, and another "more intersectional" spinoff website called the New Misandrist.
  • Yes, Daddy: The website Jonah works for is essentially Buzzfeed by another name, though it has a slightly more prestigious reputation (possibly since he's supposed to work for the arm of what would be the more respected Buzzfeed News).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angry Birds on the Run: "The Daily Wanted" news website shows two headlines: "Birds Spotted: Non-spotted birds spotted on the run" (the plot-relevant one) and "Mountains Big: Mountains still very big, say scientists".
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: "I Want to Be Here" introduces a site called QuimblePop which has various quizzes and listicles, as well as schlocky original shows like Terrier Chef. Josh uses the site's quizzes to diagnose himself with various mental disorders, despite Hector telling him it's not exactly a reliable source, complaining about the result he got on one of their "Which Sex and the City Character Are You?" quizzes. In a later episode, Rebecca prepares for a babysitting job by printing out a QuimblePop listicle on 37 ways to calm a baby.
  • Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life: Rory Gilmore is a young struggling journalist whose career has some ups and downs. She publishes a smashing hit article in the New Yorker and is being headhunted by Sandee from the SandeeSays website as a result. Rory reluctantly agrees it's worth a shot when her mother Lorelai says she should see the BrendaBlabs people even though it's no Washington Post. SandeeSays has hip open-space offices and the CEO claims they all work best in a hive, buzzing around each other, making word honey. Rory doesn't have a pitch prepared, and then suggests writing about something she recently experienced (sleeping with a guy in a comic-con costume). Sandee replies they did the story about loser girls who get drunk and do something stupid a bunch of times with different takes on it, and gets offended that Rory doesn't read their site.
  • The Magicians (2016) has FuzzBeat, an obvious Buzzfeed riff (their logo is a pink and green version of the Buzzfeed logo; their mascot is a unicorn in a tutu). Penny scoffs at them running serious news and cat videos at the same time. However, it turns out the shallowness is intentional — in this universe, clickbait is coded information for Magicians disguised with illusion magic.
  • The Newsroom: At the heart of the show's persistent New Media Are Evil aesop, Jim's girlfriend Hallie gets a job writing click-bait articles at a fictional web journalism site called "Carnivore". Jim accuses her of selling out by writing for a site that pays her by the view and thereby incentives her to write dramatically rather than honestly. She takes this badly and writes an article about the experience called "Old Media Guy and New Media Girl: An Analog Romance," which is portrayed as insipid and perfectly representative of Carnivore's standards.
  • Succession:
    • Vaulter is a trendy online media brand recently acquired by media titan Waystar Royco. It seems loosely based on various media companies, such as Vulture (note the name), Vox (for its explanation articles), and Buzzfeed (for its clickbait). A visit to the Vaulter offices in season two shows that it is populated by young writers and has a fun, open-concept type of office. They have headlines like "Wait, Is Every Taylor Swift Lyric Secretly Marxist?" and "5 Reasons Why Drinking Milk on the Toilet Is Kind of a Game-Changer". However, the show portrays their business model as unstable, as they can artificially inflate data and are subject to the whims of the Facebook algorithm; by episode's end, Logan orders Kendall to dismantle it for being hogwash, and so the latter fires everyone and incorporates only their revenue-generating ideas into the greater Waystar portfolio.
    • "The Munsters" shows the Roys' latest media venture: an online outlet called The Hundred, described as "Substack meets Masterclass meets the Economist meets The New Yorker". It apparently seems to be a glorified blog with content from modern-day experts. Tellingly, they aren't taking it very seriously, and once another idea to screw their dad over comes along, they jump ship.
  • We Are Lady Parts: The peppy influencer-turned-journalist Zarina works for an online magazine, Yellow Tongue, which Saira derides as shallow clickbait. Montaz defends it, saying they also do real journalism besides the fluff. However, Zarina herself turns out to be an Immoral Journalist, who manipulates situations around the band for her own gain and deliberately misrepresents them in her feature for online outrage and notoriety.
  • While Rachel of The White Lotus doesn't work for a single outlet in particular (as she's freelance), her job as a digital journalist who gets paid dirt for writing puff pieces is derided by the other characters. Shane calls it "clickbait gussied up as some, like, high-minded trendy woke bullshit."

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In Funky Winkerbean, after Cindy gets fired from her newsreader job on a "real" network, she gets a job with a news-site called Buddyblog, which is initially presented as this, with a meaningfully named news editor named Echo Chambers, but subsequently just exists in the background as where the funding comes from while Cindy makes documentary videos about basically anything that catches her interest.

  • Big Ethel Energy: Ethel works for At Large, a prestigious magazine with a dying print division but a booming online division. She prefers reporting on social issues (interviewing Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, writing on Syrian refugees). But her socially-inclined articles don't get much engagement, so her boss asks her to write a listicle on how to get boyfriends to open up instead.

    Web Original 
  • ClickHole (a real website) is a former sister site of The Onion that specifically parodies clickbait sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy by posting fake Clickbait Gags satirizing a broad range of topics.
  • CollegeHumor liked to rag on Buzzfeed and its ilk. The Hardly Working sketch "The Epic Bacon Boys: Internet Popularity Consultants" has the company hiring Scoot and Zipper, two website advisors whose job is to create this kind of atmosphere (and talk almost entirely in hackneyed clickbait phrases such as "Right in the childhood!")
    Zipper: ... People don't want to see new things, they want to see screenshots of TV shows with yellow subtitles.
    Scoot: They wanna see fake passive-aggressive notes written to neighbors who don't exist.
    Zipper: If you wanna see epic content, check this out.
    Pat Cassels: ...It's a blurry picture of Bill Nye the Science Guy riding the subway.
    Zipper: Holy shit, right?!
    Scoot: Next thing you know, the Game of Thrones actors will exist outside of the show!
  • Reductress is a comedy website that makes fun of women's magazines as well as clickbaity feminist websites like Jezebel. It features a section called "Womanspiration" and Clickbait Gag lifestyle articles.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: "The Test" opens with Gumball criticizing ElmoreBuzz, which is full of useless listicles like "26 Pictures of Llamas that Pretty Much Sum Up the Human Condition" and shameless advertising scams. When he agrees to take a "Which Sitcom Character Are You?" quiz, he berates how arbitrary the questions are.
    Sarah: Which of these is your favorite: a sock, the wind, Uganda, or a pickle?
    Gumball: I'm pretty sure these tests are created by pouring seeds on a keyboard and having pigeons peck at it.
  • BoJack Horseman: For much of season four and five, Diane works at GirlCroosh, a Buzzfeed-type women's interest website founded by hotel heiress Stefani Stilton. Its office is constantly portrayed as hip and fun, if alienating to Diane (lots of yoga and other amenities, colorful furniture, girl power mottos splashed across the walls), and its content runs Diane's social justice articles alongside various listicles and articles comparing the Hemsworth brothers' penises. Stefani pressures Diane to write less about her topics of interest and more about "croosh-worthy" content that generates revenue. Later, it's bought out by a big corporation and rebranded, which finally causes Diane to leave.
  • The Simpsons episode "Trust But Clarify" had a sequence where Kent Brockman — after getting fired at Channel 6 for lying about his career — seeks employment at BizzFad, a website with articles such as "6 Things You Didn't Know About 6 Things". Unfortunately for Kent, he joined the site just as it goes bankrupt.
  • We Bare Bears: "Panda's Sneeze" features a Buzzfeed-like website called Humgrub with headlines like "20 Struggles That Toad Owners Have :\" and "Little Girl Drinks Water, You Won't Believe What Happens Next!"