Cute animals dominate the internet. This is something that Ken Lerer knows; in fact, he is counting on it. His new website The Dodo is a blog dedicated to all aspects of the animal world, from pictures of puppies to more serious issues like conservation and animal cruelty. Story headlines range from the whimsical (‘Chihuahua Takes Car On Joyride, Causes Minor Crash’) to the devastating (Hunter Pays $350K To Slaughter Black Rhino But Keeps Identity Under Wraps).
In addition to BuzzFeed Chairman Lerer, Salon’s Kerry Lauerman is also on board. He believes that combining lighthearted, highly shareable elements with more serious stories will cause readers to become more engaged with ecological issues; “We’re really trying to go beyond cute animals. There’s going to be a lot of that on there, but it’s also thinking deeply about our relationship with animals.”
Alyson Shontell at The Houston Chronicle described Lerer’s decision to launch The Dodo as “arguably the smartest idea for a media company in the world”, citing the potential viral nature of a large portion of its content, and referring to BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti’s assertion that “cute animals deserve respect.”
Izzie Lerer (Ken’s daughter) is The Dodo’s editor-at-large. In a press release for the site, she stakes her claim that The Dodo will be more than just a novelty blog. “Caring about animals in the past has often been dismissed as overly sentimental or radical, but now the whole movement is moving mainstream. There’s a growing readiness and willingness to listen to people speak about issues concerning animals, and The Dodo will provide a home for these kinds of conversations.”
Essentially, The Dodo will be BuzzFeed without the listicles. Every story will focus on, and celebrate, pets and animals, with a strong ethical undercurrent. Although by the looks of it, they won’t be above link-bait headlines such as ‘Justin Bieber’s Monkey Is Doing Fine (No Thanks To The Biebs)’.