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When you think of BuzzFeed and lists, the examples below are likely to be the sort of content that first springs to mind.

Perhaps a collection of unbelievably cute pictures of animals like this.

BuzzFeed headline 3

Or this.

BuzzFeed headline 1

Or maybe a list which just makes you chuckle, especially if you have found yourself in a similar situation.

BuzzFeed headline 2

And while this sort of light-hearted content is certainly a key part of the BuzzFeed mix, the list format is also proving to be a valuable way of serving up news to its audience.

Speaking at the Polis conference at London School of Economics on Friday, Luke Lewis, editor of BuzzFeed UK, gave several examples of how the list format is helping to make news more "accessible" and impactful.

He gave one example of a "viral news story" from Venezuela which was, as many of BuzzFeed's lists tend to be, centred around key images.

At the time of writing the article, titled '29 heartbreaking images from the protests in Venezuela', has accrued more than 550,000 views.

The photos featured in the piece "fill the screen", Lewis explained, and the benefit of the sponsored content business model BuzzFeed operates means no banners or other form of online advertising "get in the way".

Instead, he said, it is a "case of giving content as much impact as possible".

This means that this style of storytelling, which came into being because of BuzzFeed's creation of more light-hearted lists, now "works very well for explaining serious topics and giving it impact", he added.

That example shows how a news story can be told with impact just by letting "the images do the work", Lewis said, but that does not mean there are not other cases where the site has aimed to deliver greater context and "deep-dive" journalism.

The latter content "is not viral", Lewis said, "but the important thing is to do both". While the more detailed coverage gives that added depth and understand, the image-led list approach can serve to engage a new audience to the news story, Lewis said, who may not otherwise have clicked on more typical reports.

And the list approach can be an effective way to explain complex stories or subjects, with a "step-by-step" approach.

He used the example of a list which outlined '15 facts that reveal the utter insanity of Britain's housing market', with each point illustrated with "a graph, photo or animated gif".

BuzzFeed is also interested in delivering "scoops", he said, as well as thinking about how to make content shareable on social media. He stressed that this requires "reporters who have contacts, experience", and that honing this style of reporting is "something that takes time".

But, he added, "we’re in it for the long haul", and that the site is keen to "get to the point where BuzzFeed is respected for news" at the same level "as anyone in the world".

"But those things take years... to build up that level of trust," he said, and "longer than three minutes", in reference to a comment by Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger earlier in the day, when he described BuzzFeed as "only about three minutes old".

BuzzFeed's UK office recently hired a news editor to drive news content production. At the time Lewis said the site does "want to get more serious about news", but that at the same time it did not want "to lose sight of the entertaining stuff" it is so well-known for.

The mobile experience

As well as making content accessible in terms of the audience's understanding of an issue, considering the mobile experience is also vital, Lewis said, which is why BuzzFeed's CMS makes it possible for a writer to send a "draft article" to their mobile before publishing.

This will "encourage you to think more in terms of images", he said, and the overall layout of the piece.

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