Journalists can also write the Lady Godiva story as a list, taking all the answers to the six Ws as separate points.
List-based journalism has become popular since Buzzfeed broke the mould. In print and on TV screens lists would be top threes, top fives or possibly top tens. Any more would take up too much space (with the exception of pure lists, such as the Sunday Times’ Rich List).
The lack of space restrictions online allows lists to be as long as you like. The more unusual and quirky the number the more likely your readers will engage.
Subjects can be serious – take this Buzzfeed report into an international counter terrorism exhibition in London.
In this case, each photo, gif, or embedded video for the 13 numbered points was taken by the reporter, but in other examples none are – all are sourced online. The commentary is just a sentence or two for most of them, with a three sentence introduction, a standfirst and a headline.
The tone is also different. The Telegraph might have editorialised about how the UK was a centre of the fight against terrorism and The Guardian might have editorialised about selling instruments of oppression to authoritarian regimes.
Buzzfeed, however, played it with a straight bat, allowing the reader to be either enthused or horrified by the content alone.
The other journalism rule Buzzfeed breaks is the old adage that you should treat serious subjects seriously. Even in a potentially heavy piece on a serious subject Buzzfeed will often find time for a joke – in this case, how one of the dummies looks likes Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in point 4.
Buzzfeed doesn’t always do lists. This is the first political interview (with Kezia Dugdale), done entirely in emoji.
- Cosmopolitan: 14 things you should know before dating a girl from Lewisham
- BBC College of Journalism: We all love lists, but are they all journalism?
- Guardian: 5 ways the listicle is changing journalism
- Poynter: News Organizations, Bloggers Turn to ‘List Journalism’ to Drive Web Traffic