BuzzFeed, known for its pop culture commentary, funny quizzes and daily Chrissy Teigen updates, is often overlooked when people are considering reliable, quality journalism outlets. What many fail to realize is that BuzzFeed has steadily been growing its news and investigative team, producing many high-impact articles covering a variety of social issues, both domestically and internationally.
BuzzFeed News has published several thought-provoking and eye-opening pieces. Here are three of the best.
Part of a series, “From Russia With Blood” highlights the deaths of several Russian expatriates living in the United Kingdom, whose deaths have potential ties back to hits from the Russian government.
In 2006, Russia passed a law allowing for special agents to legally kill enemies of the state abroad. Since then, according to this investigation, American and British special agents have suspected that more than a dozen suspicious deaths can be traced back to Russian security agents and mafia members, who occasionally work together on hits.
According to BuzzFeed, all 14 deaths have been ruled as “foul play” by British police authorities, with little to no investigation into the actual circumstances surrounding their deaths.
For example, Mikhail Lesin died in 2015 of blunt force injuries. Investigators claimed he died falling while intoxicated; however, senior U.S. officials told BuzzFeed that Lesin’s death was “suspicious” and expressed concerns that Russian hits would spread outside of London to the United States.
BuzzFeed connects the spike in Russian activity in the U.K. to Britain’s shift in focus from counter-intelligence efforts to anti-terrorism efforts following 9/11. This shift in attention allowed the Russian mafia and security agents to gain a stronghold in the U.K., a huge “tactical and security blunder” according to Greg Mackay-Lear, former Scotland Yard officer.
“From Russia With Blood,” in conjunction with the rest of the series, highlights the increasing acts of terror committed by Russian influences. As the nature of Russian interference abroad continues to make headlines, this story raises an eerie awareness to potential murders sponsored by Russian agencies.
This investigation combines interviews and data about the little-known “failure to protect” laws to paint a picture of a good idea gone horribly wrong in its execution. “Failure to protect” laws criminalize those who fail to protect children from abusive situations, but often end up sending battered women to prison — sometimes for longer sentences than the actual child abuser.
BuzzFeed looked at cases tried using “failure to protect” laws and determined that in most of the cases, the women accused of failing to protect their children from abuse were also being abused by the male figures that beat or killed their children.
From those reports, they determined that prosecuting attorneys often claimed that the failure of the women to leave their abusive situation was neglectful, failing to account for how dangerous it can actually be for women and their families after leaving their abusers.
Similarly, the BuzzFeed investigation determined that women were charged much more frequently in “failure to protect” cases. Even when male partners did not protect their children from abuse by a female partner, men were rarely ever prosecuted under the laws.
For example, in 73 “failure to protect” cases, the mother received a sentence of 10 years or more in prison. BuzzFeed could only find 4 examples of men receiving similar punishments, showing the gender-based discrepancies in how the parents’ responsibilities to their children are viewed.
Deciding whether to stay in or leave an abusive relationship, especially when there are children involved, is a complicated issue with no wonderful or easy solution. Punishing mothers (and parents in general) who are trying to do the best they can with an overwhelmingly challenging situation can often be construed as a miscarriage of justice, and BuzzFeed is taking steps to bring awareness to that lack of justice.
In this piece, NGO and UN workers revealed how the United Nations changed major parts of a report discussing aid to Syrian citizens after conversations with the Assad government. According to this report, mentions of aid plans to Syrian cities under seige by government forces were removed from the UN’s final report, as well as references to mine-removal programs.
References to “Mine Action” services, which seek to remove bombs and landmines from the area, were removed from the official report, sparking outrage among humanitarian groups.
According to an international NGO worker: “De-mining is a humanitarian, life-saving activity, so the fact that was removed is a horrifying precedent to be setting. The Syrian government has bombs and landmines as part of their military strategy and so it’s not in their best interest to have UN programmes come in and essentially fix that.”
According to BuzzFeed’s report, all changes made to the documentation were done by the UN’s Damascus branch, without any consultations made to other UN branches that were supposed to be assisting in the report’s completion.
Several workers in NGOs told BuzzFeed how concerning they found the unexpected changes to be. One NGO worker said that doing so “completely down-scales the suffering and scale of those in need in those areas.”
A coalition of Syrian NGOs also expressed dissatisfaction with the changes made to the report. The coalition said they were alarmed by how the Assad regime could hold influence over the contents of a humanitarian report.
As the conflict in Syria between Assad’s government and varying rebel forces continues to take its toll on the civilian population, BuzzFeed’s uncovering of sketchy UN activities bring awareness to a critical gap in how humanitarian governmental agencies have been responding to the Syrian crisis.
Although this is hardly a comprehensive list of the best BuzzFeed News has to offer, these selections give readers more insight into the political and social realities that are often overlooked by media outlets. BuzzFeed has several other hard-hitting articles that one should look into, after starting with these pieces.