BuzzFeed hires Guardian bureau chief in latest push for influence

BuzzFeed continues to signal its aspirations to be a major player in the news business. Two weeks after announcing a video partnership with CNN, the viral site said it has hired the Guardian‘s Moscow bureau chief, Miriam Elder, to be its Foreign Editor.

“Foreign coverage is one of the last spheres where new media haven’t competed aggressively with newspapers and television networks,” said editor-in-chief Ben Smith, in a release issued Monday morning.

The hire carries symbolic significance at a time when the Guardian is enjoying plaudits for its role in breaking a series of major stories involving surveillance by the U.S. government.

While BuzzFeed is still regarded by some as no more than a glorified forum for cat videos, the hiring of Elder — and other media establishment veterans like Smith from Politico and New York Times reporters — reflect its quest to build a serious news machine.

The hiring also reflects the diverging financial fortunes of the two publications. BuzzFeed is in a strong position due to recent investments and enthusiasm for its “native advertising” model, while the Guardian is losing considerable money as it fights for a share of the U.S. news market.

Disclosure: Guardian News & Media is an investor in the parent company of GigaOM/paidContent.