Business of Art Fix #12: Like Being Perpetually Two Drinks Into A Really, Really Fun Night On The Town

Welcome to the twelfth “This Business of Art / Media / Web Fix,” in which I share with you things I read that I loved relating to the work I do here — online media, business, entrepreneurship, women in tech, start-ups, journalism, publishing, management, queer visibility, and so forth. You can expect this sucker to drop every-other Wednesday.

Today’s headline is an excerpt from 18 Years of Nerve.com.


This Business of Online Media

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+ Literate Smut: 18 Years of Nerve.com: It’s been 18 years since the launch of Nerve.com, a hugely influential online magazine and blog that radically transformed how writing got done on the internet and engendered a new way of thinking about sex writing. I never would’ve had the skill and understanding I have to launch Autostraddle if I hadn’t snagged that Nerve.com internship back in 2005.  Now, Nerve is switching focus to expand its breadth of coverage beyond the erotic while remaining an inventive industry-leader. One of these new directions involves “monthly special issues devoted to longform explorations on various themes.” They’re kicking off with a special issue about Nerve itself:

In her 2003 editor’s letter for Nerve’s Fiction Issue, Mary Gaitskill laments the dilemma of modern sex writing. “Many modern stories with sexual content are clever, intelligent, provocative, sad and funny. But […] it seems we have lost something—the force of that animal which can come out of ‘nowhere,’ tear your precious personality to pieces, then melt back into the dark to quietly lick its paws.” Over a decade later, on the eve of our 18th birthday, a new iteration of Nerve wants to achieve something similar. Nerve will publish writing that’s both rigorous and brash, smutty and smart, that licks it paws. Mostly we want to publish work that’s honest—writing that surpasses the busy fluff, that strikes a nerve.

A Buttery Farewell – Incredible human and friend-of-Autostraddle Roxane Gay is closing the very awesome Toast spin-off The Butter ’cause she doesn’t have the time to do it. Running websites takes shit-ton of time, y’all! However, the archives of The Butter will be hoasted on The Toast now and forevermore. From her farewell letter:

I have loved The Butter and wish I could continue doing it but given my day job and this writing thing I insist on doing and speaking gigs and, and, and, I haven’t had the time to grow The Butter’s readership to where it needs to be for the site to be sustainable. As an ambitious person, I hate failing at anything and I particularly hate letting down the writers who trusted me with their work. All I can say is that next time, and there will be a next time, I will do it better.

How This Media Startup Became a $100 Million Company by Courting Millennials: Founded by a former Goldman Sachs employee in 2011, Mic boasts 82 full-time employees and a $100 million valuation. They’ve done this by investing heavily in digital video — one platform upon which it is still possible to sell ads — and while their revenue last year was a whopping $0, it’s grown to $5-$10 million this year by hiring a sales team focused on “branded content, video content, and a “Hero” banner unit. ”

+ The Daily Beast is getting rid of comments: “Like many of our fellow publications, we have noticed that the conversation around our articles is increasingly happening on social networks, not in the commenting section. More and more of you are reaching out directly to our authors to engage in lively and considered back-and-forth on Twitter, Facebook and other channels.”

+ Today in Vice Media news, they’ve landed Carmelo Anthony to launch their new sports channel, The Clubhouse, which “will feature shows that focus on life beyond the stadium, said Will Kiersky, the publisher of Vice Sports.” Also, three journalists from Vice have been arrested in Turkey on “terrorism charges.”

+ Today in frightening news related to social media dominance: Facebook has pulled ahead of Google in referral traffic.

+ Buzzfeed related news: A podcast about podcasts: talking to Buzzfeed’s Jenna Weiss-Berman about her podcast strategy for the media empire. Also, Buzzfeed is expanding big-time in Los Angeles and considering buying a 250,000 square foot former Ford auto factory from which to control the world. Also, Buzzfeed Just Became a Content Marketing Tech Company.

+ How people use Twitter to read the news: 74% of those who use twitter for news do so daily.

+ Hulu is now offering second-tier subscription for ad-free viewing at $12 a month. I am going to sign up for this right now.


This Business of Writing and Journalism

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+ We might actually be getting somewhere with diversity on magazine covers — in September, Beyoncé was on Vogue, Ciara was on Shape, Kerry Washington is on Self, Amandla Stenberg is on Dazed, Willow Smith is on i-D and Misty Copeland is on Essence. (Essence usually has black women on the cover, though.) In August, Serena Williams covered New York Magazine. At The Guardian, Kristal Brent Zoot talks about the history of black women on magazine covers, which includes fun facts like, “Feminist author Michele Wallace even told of having to unbraid her hair for a 1979 cover of Ms. magazine, whose editors reportedly considered braids “unpalatable” for their readers.”

+ Author and activist Melissa Gira Grant is tired of being interviewed for free by reporters who refuse to do even the most basic research for the work they want her input on:

I am on my own kind of strike from doing anyone else’s work on sex work. I will not answer your requests. I will not give you interviews. I will not be a token on your program. I will not direct you to resources. I will not introduce you to subjects. I will not do work you are paid to do. I will not do work which has value to those who employ you. I will not do work which has value to those who place advertisements around your work. I will not, and if you ask me to more than once, I will direct you to the following, now published for you to refer to in the future and to share with your colleagues, too: To acquire my time from my own writing, research, and public speaking, my consulting fees on the subject of sex work begin at $1000.

+ The evolution of magazine covers. I love this stuff! (Also, I did something similar here, but not as cool-looking: 100 Years of Magazine Covers Starring Lesbians)

+ Stella Bugbee talks to Tales From the Back Row: An Outsider’s View From Inside the Fashion Industry author Amy O’Dell (also the editor of Cosmopolitan.com and a former editor for The Cut) about her work-life balance (she doesn’t have one, she just works all the time), covering Fashion Week, how online media is changing and managing a team.

+ Giant platforms are crushing local news.

+ Bloomberg News is firing 90 journalists.

+ On how the media handled the graphic footage of the shooting of two journalists in Virginia.

+ When the Editor Becomes The Writer: Jill Bialosky on how she manages both.

+ How an Ohio reporter helped convict more than 100 rapists.

+ Jorge Ramos Is Not Walter Cronkite“In the United States’ English-language media, it has become routine to describe Ramos as a kind of Mexican-American Walter Cronkite. Yet in his books, the person he presents as his North Star is not Cronkite but Oriana Fallaci, the fierce Italian journalist who faced off with Yasir Arafat, Muammar el-Qaddafi and Ayatollah Khomeini.”


This Business of Business

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+ TomboyX, a lesbian-owned company dedicated to making boxer-briefs for women, won $10,000 at a Pitch Slam the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s International Business and Leadership Conference.

+ Women and minorities are still getting the short end of the stick when it comes to small business. Time reports that of the more than $14 trillion in revenues from sales reported in 2012, only $1.6 trillion, or 11.3%, went to female-owned businesses. Businesses owned by men took in 79% of sales.

+ The story of how McDonald’s All-Day Breakfast Came To Be: Not gonna lie, I was super stressed out the other day to make it to McD by 10:30 and so confused by why anybody would want a Big Mac between 10:30 AM and 11:30 AM, I am very pleased by this development.

+ How Lane Bryant is changing the conversation about women, beauty and plus-sized bodies.

John Mackey: The Conscious Capitalist – A very interesting feature on the Whole Foods CEO. There’s obviously a lot to dislike about Whole Foods, but this quote spoke directly to my soul:

He believes that this prevailing narrative of business—as a selfish and exploitative enterprise—stems in part from intellectuals’ attack on capitalism throughout history, which has fueled the public’s mistrust and skepticism. But another key contributor to this perception, in Mackey’s worldview, is that the dominant business theory of “profit maximization” has been a toxic one. “A metaphor I like to use is that my body can’t live unless it’s making red blood cells,” he explains. “If I stop making red blood cells, I’d be dead in no time. It does not logically follow that the purpose of my life is to make red blood cells.” The same logic applies to business. If a business does not make profits, it dies. But it does not follow that the purpose of business is to make profits.

+ Beyond the Paycheck: A social scientist who believes that “it’s possible for every worker at every company and organization to receive fulfillment from their jobs—yes, even call-center employees and janitors.”

+ A bad job is worse for your health than unemployment.


Businesswomen’s Special: Advice On Working Better

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+ How Making Time For Books Made Me Feel Less Busy (Harvard Business Review)

+ Movers and Image-Makers: A Masterclass in Fashion Photography from Nick Knight (It’s Nice That)

+ How Playing Roller Derby Made Me A Better Social Media Marketer (Bust)


Stories We’re Looking For

+ Back to basics, y’all: fresh, hilarious and inventive approaches to the topics of long-term relationships between women, queer female friendship groups, relationship issues, sex and dating.


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Riese is the 36-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2582 articles for us.

14 Comments

  1. That “Beyond the Paycheck” article is super interesting! There are so many things that we assume about human nature that just become self-fulfilling prophecies. I’m all for treating all types of work as possibilities for fulfillment. That sounds amazing.

  2. Not sure how far I can get behind a ‘conscious capitalist’ who requires his producers to create good working conditions but ‘opposes labor unions and once penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed that ran under the headline The Whole Foods Alternative to Obamacare that endeared him to the Tea Party.’

    Ultimately, there are contradictions/paradoxes inherent to ‘ethical capitalism.’ And I think that Mackey doesn’t really deal well with them in an ethically conscious way (unlike certain other models, that, yes, have to compromise, but do so with a greater emphasis on widespread social justice). He’s really just an arch neoliberal/free market-eer.

    If he were so committed to the line that he espouses in the article, Whole Foods would be built on a social enterprise and co-operative model, and would try and maximise efficacy through those.

    Also, I mean… ‘conscious capitalism’ that voluntarily supported militarised presence in Baltimore… Again, it seems like Mackey deals with the contradictions inherent in an ‘ethical form of capitalism’ by just, ultimately, opting for the easier route. Just because he doesn’t build his model on immediate profit over anything else, doesn’t mean he’s a ‘conscious capitalist’ (or ethically conscious anything, necessarily).

    And a ‘conscious capitalism’ that maintains/perpetuates the gentrification of food cultures, including ‘healthy’/’ethical’ alternatives, isn’t even spreading the gospels Mackey claims to support.

    All this said, it was a super interesting read. Thank you!

    • Thanks for adding this! Seriously I know very little about the guy, that article is the extent of what I know. I have hard feelings towards Whole Foods because I used to work at a local family-owned health food store in Ann Arbor that was blown out of business when Whole Foods came to town, but I like that quote and what it says to me personally even if he doesn’t practice what he preaches. I WILL PRACTICE WHAT HE PREACHES ALL BY MYSELF

      • I kept wanting to add caveats like ‘BUT AUTOSTRADDLE DOES DO THIS TO MY KNOWLEDGE AS FAR AS YOU ALL CAN WITHIN THE CONFINES OF THIS WHOLE SHITTY SYSTEM’ but felt silly. But yeah, I just think it’s telling that the economists he’s cited as reading are notorious right wing/free market thinkers. The kinda ‘corporate accountability’ practices (like giving a certain amount to ‘ethical’ organisations/giving employees a certain amount of hours free to do community work/blah blah) that Whole Foods and similar organisations do end up whitewashing their corporate records and, ultimately, don’t really ‘change’ the system. They are often slightly ineffective salves for problems that they themselves are deeply complicit in. Blah blah blah. I am one of those ‘intellectuals’ who just loves to undermine people’s faith in capitalism blah blah blah.

        But, yeah, we’re pretty much stuck in this system (albeit with space for difference/resistance of types) and I totally feeeeeel the bit you quoted. But yeah, Whole Foods can go do one.

        Also, un-relatedly, Melissa Gira Grant <3 <3 <3

  3. Considering what the comment sections are like on many (many) sites, I can’t really blame the site operators who get rid of them. XD

    That said, the comment section here usually seems fairly nice, and I appreciate that and the work I know you guys put into it.

  4. The Daily Beast shutting down their comments instills the fear in me for our comment section. I don’t want this party to ever end. Also, the article about the Ohio journalist who pushed for the testing of untested rape kits was, uh, pretty damn great!

  5. So many good things here Riese, always so many damn good reads!

    (And of course McD’s starts serving all-day breakfast the year I move away from roads, stores, and restaurants! Ah well, it’s probably for the best. Maybe I’ll grab some when I enter the lower 48 for A-Camp next year.)

  6. People with jobs that start very early might well want lunch at 10:30 or 11:00 am. Having had bits of life when I start work at 6:00 am, I very much want lunch by 10:00 am. And I can only imagine if you start at 5:00 or 5:30… Those are also bits of life when the 9 pm show is too late and you envy people in central time.

  7. The world of journalism: a constant swirling pit of change and wonder. I, like Charlie, am nervous about the closure of more comment sections. It is difficult though, to engage readers in the comment sections who are afraid of flame wars, or would rather facebook/tweet about it.
    I’d be very interested to see the statistics of Autostraddle’s comment engagement after your comment week ended. Seems fairly active to me.

    Also: v excited about the expension of nerve!

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