One might think that in a conflict between a journalist removed from a press conference for asking questions and the politician who had him removed, journalists would side with their fellow journalist. Some are. But many American journalists have seized on the incident to denounce Ramos for the crime of having opinions and even suggesting that he’s not really acting as a journalist at all.
Politico’s political reporter Marc Caputo unleashed a Twitter rant this morning against Ramos. “This is bias: taking the news personally, explicitly advocating an agenda,” he began. Then: “Trump can and should be pressed on this. Reporters can do this without being activists” and “some reporters still try to approach their stories fairly & decently. & doing so does not prevent good reporting.” Not only did Ramos not do journalism, Caputo argued, but he actually ruins journalism: “My issue is his reporting is imbued with take-it-personally bias. . . . we fend off phony bias allegations & Ramos only helps to wrongly justify them. . . .One can ask and report without the bias. I’ve done it for years & will continue 2 do so.”
Answer: No one knows.
Two months ago, ESPN unexpectedly, unceremoniously dumped Bill Simmons, one of the network’s biggest and best-known personalities. When they did, Simmons was forced to abandon Grantland, the sports and pop culture website he created and edited; more specifically, he was forced to abandon dozens of writers, editors, podcasters, and contributors. Now, with the site’s future in doubt and in the hands of a new editor, many of those staffers are eyeing the door.
Nothing ESPN has done since firing Simmons has given anyone much reason to be confident in the site’s future. John Skipper, ESPN’s president, fired Simmons without even telling the site’s staff, and three weeks later, he named Chris Connelly—best known as that one movie guy from ABC—the interim editor-in-chief. The staff, again, found out when everyone else did. If Simmons’s firing came as a shock, Connelly’s hiring felt familiar. This was, many at Grantland figured, just the new way of things.
In private, Grantland writers and editors give contradictory appraisals of Connelly’s performance during the month and a half he’s served as EIC. Some say he’s been just fine as a band-aid; others describe him as a company man and unabashed star-fucker who just doesn’t grasp the purpose of the site. (Multiple staffers have told Deadspin of times that Connelly has meddled with pieces; while one person’s meddling is another’s editing, we’re told that articles are invariably worse off for his participation.) Either way, Connelly was screwed from the start. Simmons personally hired everyone on staff, many of whom are young and haven’t worked under anyone else. They were close with Simmons; he supported them, and gave many of them their first shot at a national audience. Whoever came in was going to face some skepticism.
The theory always went that BuzzFeed couldn’t be all cat GIFs, because it would very quickly wear out its welcome. But that theory was wrong in one crucial aspect — with the rise of social media, a site’s brand identity is a little less important with every year. Gawker is important to those of us in the media because it’s Gawker, with its strong institutional voice. But to someone not entrenched in the world of the media (which is the vast majority of everybody), it’s just another Facebook content provider. Social media has, essentially, turned every content provider into a syndicator. Vox’s own Ezra Klein argued something very similar recently.
And the best syndicators were always those who could take the most crowd-pleasing stuff and get it before as many eyeballs as possible. Think about, say, comic strips or advice columns — fun to read and ultimately disposable. That’s precisely the philosophy a site like ViralNova, which essentially only collects fun little things and repackages them, operates upon. And its growth has been phenomenal, so far avoiding the pitfalls that eventually took down earlier contenders like Upworthy.
And if you work in online media, that’s terrifying.
ON THE FIRST FRIDAY IN MAY, a line of advertising and media people stretched down New York’s West 22nd Street, waiting to hear from Shane Smith, the 45-year-old bearded and bearish co-founder of Vice. One of the media world’s most flamboyant CEOs had an announcement to make.
The occasion was the Digital Content NewFronts, a corporate event where media companies parade upcoming digital programming before advertisers. While some CEOs came in button-downs and blazers, Smith wore a black T-shirt, a tattoo peeking out from under his sleeve.
In a rollicking, obscenity-laced presentation featuring Oscar-nominated filmmaker and Vice creative director Spike Jonze, Smith unveiled a host of new lifestyle shows starring a who’s who of tastemakers for millennials. Marc Maron, the sardonic comedian who runs a popular podcast of celebrity one-on-ones, will have an interview show; Ellen Page, the actress from Inceptionand Juno who came out as gay last year, will host an LGBT travel show, “Gaycation.”
But unlike the bulk of Vice’s news and cultural programming, which runs online, the shows are expected to air on Vice’s new cable channel on A&E Networks, which paid a cool $250 million for a 10 percent stake in Vice last year. At the media industry’s premier digital advertising event, Vice’s big news sounded almost anachronistic: the plucky internet video mavericks were moving to cable.
A fascinating sociological experiment unfolds before our eyes starting this morning, as the Washington Post unveils its new “PowerPost” vertical, subtitled “Intelligence for Leaders.”
Post publisher Fred Ryan, in a memo to the Post newsroom leaked to Politico, said the new project would focus “on the subjects that matter most to the people at the center of power.”
What we can learn, therefore, is what the editors of the Washington Post, themselves of course among the powerful, think their fellow powerful people are interested in.
If I had a captive audience of powerful people, mind you, I would expose them relentlessly to the stories of the powerless — the people being squashed by their precious status quo, the people scraping by at wrong end of the playing field the powerful have tilted so steeply, the people going to schools to which the powerful would never dream of sending their children.
But of course the Washington Post’s goal here is not to bum out the powerful, or teach them humility; it is to attract them, coddle them and fulfill their needs.
I have a confession to make as an internet writer: I block ads. It’s not a habit I formed recently – I have pretty much blocked ads my entire life, in every medium that I can. In middle school, I bought the first-generation TiVo in order to skip television ads (my mother may have helped with this purchase). I still saw the ads though while scrolling the video, so I resorted to only watching C-SPAN and PBS for a while to cope.
Today, I have installed the comprehensive set of browser plugins needed to block not just ads, but every single tracker known to exist. Sadly, this is only possible on desktop, since my iPad doesn’t have similar plugins (yet!) to be able to do this.
Adblocking is suddenly in the news again because that equilibrium has been shattered. Internet users are increasingly using tools like Ghostery and others to block ads and marketing trackers. Growth in adblocking has traditionally been slow and steady, but since 2013 that growth rate has skyrocketed. In the last three years, internet users who adblock have increased from 40 million users to more than 200 million users today.
Interesting–and hopeful–news here:
– You could read all the journalism you care for in one place
– You would only need to register once to read it all
– You would only pay for the articles you actually read
– You’d get your money back if you didn’t like the story
– No subscriptions
– No ads
That’s what we launched in The Netherlands exactly one year ago.
At the time, we used to pitch Blendle as “the iTunes of journalism”. But Blendle is not only about paying little if you don’t consume a lot. It’s also about the convenience of reading and paying with only one click. It’s about our focus on the very best user experience (with our instant refund policy being a good example). And it’s about the way we help users to find the premium journalism that they find most interesting.
Over the past 12 months we’ve proven in the Netherlands that there’s a new market for publishers, next to selling subscriptions, full issues and advertising. Without spending a single euro on marketing, we gathered over a quarter of a million users. We generate a very decent amount of money (I can’t say how much, unfortunately, only that it’s more than Apple generates for publishers) in our short existence. But more importantly: it’s money from people who weren’t paying for journalism before. My friends have never paid for music and movies, until Spotify and Netflix. And with Blendle, they’re paying for journalism, often for the first time in their lives.
Is Google trying to censor news it deems “inappropriate” for public consumption?
That’s what the editors of several news websites are asking after recent tussles withGoogle AdSense, the online advertising behemoth that generates revenue for publishers by placing third-party “pay per click” or “pay per impression” ads on their sites. Publishers need only sit back and collect the checks, which can add up to thousands of dollars a month, depending on traffic.
AdSense brings in about $13 billion a year to Google’s coffers, about 24 percent of its overall revenue. According to its fourth-quarter earnings report in January, Google earned $3.72 billion in the last months of FY2014 from ads appearing on its network partners’ websites. In 2011, the company said it paid 68 percent of ad revenue back to the sites that participate in AdSense. All added up, that’s a lot of cash.
Until, of course, a publisher runs afoul of Google’s Terms and Conditions. Google says it tries to guarantee its advertisers that their ads will only be displayed on “family-friendly” websites. That includes a strict prohibition on “violent content,” a rule the company says is applied across the board—and is apparently blind to context.
“If your site has content which you wouldn’t be comfortable viewing at work or with family members around, then it probably isn’t an appropriate site for Google ads,” according to Google’s guidance for “Adult Content.”
But “family-friendly” is a vague standard that can lead to poor, context-free judgements about content, as some publishers, including The American Conservative, suspect after recent brushes against those Terms and Conditions.
Scott DeLong famously founded his clickbait empire ViralNova from the spare bedroom of an Ohio house that backed up against a cornfield.
There were no employees; no office space; no Keurig bars or beer fridges or other trappings of start-up glory. Every day, DeLong personally trawled the social web for content, slapped it with the type of impossibly effusive headline sites like Clickhole now exist to mock, and watched the traffic flood in. He put no byline on these repurposed stories, and kept ViralNova’s “About” page intentionally vague; he was an anonymous, one-man operation, a factory of only the most shameless viral hits.
“Half Way Through This, I Totally Broke Down. I Don’t Want To Spoil It, So Just Get A Tissue And Look.” “This Recently Married Man Just Realized Marriage Is Not For Him. You Have To Read What He Wrote.”
“Congratulations, Viral Nova!” The Awl’s Choire Sicha wrote in October 2013. “You’re HORRIFIC, ILLITERATE and MONSTROUS.”
But now, some 18 months and 34908450984590734 page views later, DeLong wants to go legit. In doing so, he makes a perfect case study for the clickbait economy — and the trends rapidly disrupting it.
Last week was the first ever National Adjunct Walkout Day, a grassroots protest to push for fair pay and better working conditions. Protests and teach-ins took place on as many as 100 campuses nationwide, prompting at least one university to create a task force to address labor concerns. It’s little wonder that a national movement has sprung up around the adjunct system, which offers little or no job security or access to benefits and significantly lower wages than regular faculty. I sympathize — I was an adjunct, and I could only tolerate the stress and exhaustion for two years.
I taught as many as five classes each semester at four campuses in D.C. and Maryland, crisscrossing town by bike and public transportation during work days that sometimes lasted 13 hours. I never knew what my employment would look like the following term and constantly applied for part- and full-time teaching positions in case I didn’t get rehired. Many of the courses I taught—composition, professional writing and journalism—were required for undergraduate or graduate students, yet those programs ran almost entirely on the backs of adjuncts.