Hastings' car smashed into a tree and burst into flames early Tuesday morning near Melrose and Highland avenues, according to family and friends. It appears he was driving at a high rate of speed, and at the scene of the crash, there were no skid marks.
BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith said he learned from a family member that the 33-year-old died.
"We are shocked and devastated by the news that Michael Hastings is gone," Smith said in a statement. "Michael was a great, fearless journalist with an incredible instinct for the story, and a gift for finding ways to make his readers care about anything he covered from wars to politicians. He wrote stories that would otherwise have gone unwritten, and without him there are great stories that will go untold."
Hastings was hired by BuzzFeed last year, and he was in Los Angeles setting up an L.A. bureau for BuzzFeed. Smith described Hastings as a "wonderful, generous colleague."
Hastings, who was also a contributing editor for Rolling Stone, is best known for his 2010 Rolling Stone cover story, "The Runaway General." The story is credited with ending Gen. Stanley McChrystal's career after it revealed the military's candid criticisms of the Obama administration. Hastings quoted McChrystal and his aides mocking Obama administration officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, over their war policies.
McChrystal, lead commander in Afghanistan at the time, ended up resigning.
Friends and fans of Hastings' work stopped by the crash scene to pay their respects.
"His first book about how his fiancee died is heart breaking," said Cynthia Del Mar of Los Angeles.
She was referring to the 2010 book "I Lost My Love in Baghdad," in which Hastings told the story of being a young war correspondent whose girlfriend died in Iraq.
He lived in New York and leaves behind his wife, the writer Elise Jordan.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.