September 6, 2013 § Leave a comment
In a stark example of speaking power to truth, Wallenstein, explains that, because “[i]t’s difficult to subsist on substantive journalism without some help from more crowd-pleasing content” and “maximizing advertising revenues is dependent on maximizing traffic,” Miley as top news was a natural and defensible choice. In a Web 2.0 world where the pressure for writers to perform in groveling, crowd-pleasing fashion has been “accentuated by the analytics that give publishing companies detailed feedback of how content performs in a way the print world couldn’t,” Wallenstein sees that news organizations have three options open to them:
1) You can remain in denial that quality alone will prevail despite all evidence of the contrary.
2) You can do whatever it takes to drive traffic and lose any sense of distinct brand identity.
3) You can coordinate a balanced attack between the quality that supports the brand but not traffic with more broadly appealing content that does more for traffic than it does the brand.”
Like all shining mediocrities, Wallenstein makes his modest proposal in favor of triangulation, the best bet to preserve at least something of that all-valuable “sense of distinct brand identity”—which I suppose is meant to be a synonym for integrity. You can’t beat ‘em! Join ‘em!
Part of the “analytics” that Wallenstein refers to are the bars at the top and bottom of every CNN.com story denoting “Total Shares,” which add up the number of Tweets and Facebook Likes, as well as Google Plus and LinkedIn whatevers, garnered by any given piece. Something not wholly unlike this interface can be found at the bottom of this page. And the reason I am discussing this in a space dedicated to movie chat is because the same analytics that made Miley-as-a-top-story a foregone conclusion have been and will increasingly be dictating how we talk about movies—at least in paying venues. While a filmmaker’s “use of space” is a favorite vague term among pud cinephiles, right now the only use of space that I want to talk about pertains to web real estate.
The race to perfect the art of quantifying and selling attention is a race to the bottom. In these dark times—and make no mistake, they are pitch black—the meaning of “professional” and “amateur” has become increasingly confused. Whereas “professional” should ideally imply a certain basic level of authority and competent draftsmanship, the emerging model favors a breed of insta-expert hacks adept at nothing but producing a few mangled grafs of Provocative Opinion on deadline and chumming the Internet with keywords.
Producing think-piece responses timed to the trending item of the day, regardless of how damning or dismissive that response may be, only reinforces the system of priority that has already been put in place. And when whatever the monied interests want people to be talking about is given priority over what the cultural gatekeeper, writer or editor, thinks that people should be talking about, journalism (or its relation, criticism) has in effect become an arm of marketing. The fact is that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and every dollar of the budget put towards a tie-in listicle timed to a tentpole release that no-one with a bit of sense thinks for a second is going to be worth a shit, is a dollar that doesn’t go somewhere else.
By expending verbiage on ‘Achy-Breaky Heart’ performer Billy Ray Cyrus’s daughter having rubbed her bottom onto the crotch of Growing Pains star Alan Thicke’s son rather than on, say, Laida Lertxundi, I am, in fact, participating in and reinforcing this system right now. read more
SCAN: Stephanie Kelton