For Pierre Bourbonnais, losing the ASUC presidential election did not mean the end of his campaign to change UC Berkeley.
BearFeed.org — his political party and news website — gathered a lot of attention during the 2014 ASUC campaign. But now that the elections are over, is BearFeed over? The short answer: no.
“BearFeed was just a tool we used to help get attention,” said Bourbonnais, a UC Berkeley junior and former marketing manager at The Daily Californian. He added that he sees BearFeed transitioning into a news source. According to him, BearFeed takes both BuzzFeed’s blog style and Daily Mail’s bullet-point style to “bring light to issues that are important to the greatest number of students possible in the most efficient manner possible.”
“We’re going to remove the stuff about my campaign and have a weekly long-form article,” he said. Bourbonnais also wants to continue doing blog-style articles, such as BearFeed’s most popular article, “16 Sexiest UC Berkeley Professors Over 65 (And Their Responses).” The article currently has about 1,000 likes on the website.
One of these issues Bourbonnais felt needed to be covered was the meeting with UC President Janet Napolitano in February. Napolitano met with 15 undergraduate students, including ASUC officials and other campus community members.
According to Bourbonnais, he felt it was an issue that students care deeply about and wanted to give them a different perspective than what The Daily Californian article provided.
He took to his website to write an article giving details into the meeting and focused specifically on CalSERVE presidential candidate Naweed Mohabbat’s reaction to the meeting. “CalSERVE presidential candidate Naweed Mohabbat thinks Pepito has done a “great job” engaging with President Napolitano…such obstruction to dialogue are antithetical to the ideals of a university should not be tolerated,” the article stated.
With BearFeed, Bourbonnais wants to give UC Berkeley students an alternative news outlet they can look to for issues such as next year’s ASUC elections.
In order to promote BearFeed, Bourbonnais says “some money” was spent on Facebook to help and jump-start the interaction, and about $10 to $20 was spent to host the website. According to our own Facebook feed, many of the posts appeared to be sponsored content, meaning BearFeed paid to have its content appear more regularly in the Facebook news feed.
BearFeed is currently staffed by two people, who, according to Bourbonnais, spend one to two hours a week working on the website. He is also considering hiring writers for fall 2014, as he had “a couple of people show interest.”
“Our staff members are like sponges, ” he said. “We absorb all the news and happenings around us, and by the end of the week, we naturally know what to write about. If the ASUC, the administration — or any group for that matter — does something that we see as violating student rights, obstructing dialogue, or imperiling the undergraduate experience, we’ll hold that agency accountable by making sure every student knows about it.”