BuzzFeed expands into Hollywood in a big way

rushfield-fb-profile.jpgBuzzFeed, the social news website led by Huffington Post co-founder Jonah Peretti, is opening a Los Angeles bureau to focus on viral-worthy Hollywood news. The bureau will be run by Richard Rushfield, the LA Times and Gawker veteran, and has already hired Kate Aurthur, formerly the TV editor at the LA Times and West Coast editor of the Daily Beast and Newsweek, as chief Los Angeles correspondent to write about film, TV and celebrities. Investigative reporter Michael Hastings, now covering the presidential campaign, will also be on the team. The bureau is expected to grow to a staff of 12, the Hollywood Reporter says.

The move adds another player to the crowded scrum of Hollywood news websites, and a well-trafficked one at that. BuzzFeed, which was launched in 2006 as a social news website that aggregates viral content and serves it to readers via search and social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter, generated 16 million unique visitors in September, according to Comscore. The company, led by Huffington Post co-founder Jonah Peretti, announced in January that it had raised $15.5 million in new funding led by New Enterprise Associates, with Lerer Ventures, Hearst Media, Softbank and RRE participating.

BuzzFeed's editor in chief Ben Smith was recruited from Politico in December 2011 in a push for original content, starting first with a politics vertical.

"Richard and Kate are perfectly positioned to combine the best traditions of honest, lucid entertainment coverage with today’s changing web," Smith says in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "Michael Hastings will be invaluable in helping us shake the foundations of entertainment journalism in 2013 as we did with politics in 2012. It’s the right year to do this and there’s an audience primed and ready for first rate entertainment content built for the social web,”

In an interview with THR, Rushfield says the plan is to combine viral-ready takes on big entertainment moments with serious reporting that will rival traditional outlets...."BuzzFeed has mastered creating real news for the social web, so the opportunity to expand that to Hollywood is exciting," says Rushfield, who also has written for The New York Times and Gawker and recently penned a book about American Idol. "We want to create the kind of stories people will want to share and pass around."

On his personal website, Rushfield posted tonight: "I had all but given up hope of being excited about things in this media world, but I am beyond thrilled about this opportunity. I have loved the mix they are pioneering of fun viral content combined with real gumshoe reporting and the chance to bring that to Hollywood is a dream. And what makes it kind of scarily good is that I’m joining a team of both really smart and really nice, decent people there. I didn’t know that could happen."

Earlier this weekend Rushfield posted a Facebook photo of himself and a young baby outside Espresso Profeta in Westwood. So he's got his hands full now.

Facebook profile photo of Rushfield

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