Olivia Handscom ‘18/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Buzzfeed is entering the literary universe! For years now, Buzzfeed has been slowing integrating itself into a household name. It’s a bit of an amalgam of everything relevant—a cross between hard-hitting journalism, popular culture, and quizzes about cats. In the Buzzfeed book section, there is everything from “19 Reasons The Great Gatsby is the Best Novel of All Time” to “If Game of Thrones Characters Had Tinder.” Now, Buzzfeed Books has the literary world humming with the news of its new Emerging Writers Fellowship.
The four-month program is set to start the first week of January 2016 in New York City. The program is being launched by Buzzfeed’s own literary editor, Saeed Jones. In an interview with Electric Literature, Jones said, “I’m designing a curriculum that balances learning opportunities with time to write.” Writers will focus on essay writing, cultural reports and profiles. They will have opportunities in the form of writing workshops and panel discussions with writers and editors from the industry. The hope is that these lucky writers will leave this fellowship with knowledge on how to navigate the world of freelance writing as well as how to become staff members of media organizations.
Sounds like an amazing opportunity, and the best part is the fellowship comes with a $12,000 stipend. Anyone familiar with literary internships can tell you that most programs don’t offer anything close to that salary, if they offer a salary at all. The pay was an important feature to Jones. By offering that much money, the Fellowship is allowing people of different economic backgrounds the opportunity to gain experience in the field or writing. In the same interview with Electric Literature, Jones said, “When we expect young writers to get experience via unpaid internships, we’re actually saying we want only wealthy people writing about American culture in an influential way. That’s what we get, right? Or rather, that’s what we’ve gotten used to accepting as normal when in fact, it’s a kind of fiction. Diversity is reality.” This fellowship could be a real game changer for potential writers and literature everywhere. If others follow in Buzzfeed’s and Jones’ footsteps, we are looking at a much more diversified future in writing, a future full of many different voices and talents that would be stifled otherwise. This program will allow an opportunity for diverse voices, not just voices that can afford to be heard.
This is only the beginning of Buzzfeed’s literary movement. Jones is also planning on introducing a literary magazine as well as a reading and salon series. Many might think Buzzfeed is not the appropriate platform to present such opportunities, but it may actually be the perfect platform. Since Buzzfeed is such a high-profile website, there is a good chance that these new additions will reach a large and diverse audience. Buzzfeed could help usher in a new age of readers and fans of the wide world of literature, as well as introduce them to new and varied voices. It could potentially start a revolution that eventually reaches the mainstream literary world.