Hello welcome to the 20th Business of Art Fix. Today I am writing you from MY NEW HOME OFFICE. I have some words of advice for all ye home office dwellers: do not buy a cork roll from Staples, it will fall apart in your hands. If you want a strip of corkboard long enough to cover up the former resident’s pink paint you lack time to paint over and the hole in the drywall you find personally overwhelming, just go to CVS and get a bunch of 14 x 14 cork squares and nail ’em up next to each other. If you purchase a cork roll from Staples, you will be poor and have only yourself to blame. You’re welcome.
This Business Of Making People Read Good Articles On A Website
+ Kate Lloyd wrote clickbait for a women’s website for six months and wrote about it on Broadly. Her job was, essentially, “researching the things people searched for privately and writing about them publicly.” She writes about a few unflattering elements of human existence, like that more people search for “[celebrity] naked” than anything else about that celebrity to win the search engine optimization game. “When keeping your job relies more on you getting people to click on a headline than on producing an interesting article, your goals change,” she writes. The trickery goes deep:
While you’re groaning at clickbait “shows her ex what he’s missing in tiny bikini” headlines, there’s a whole new level of trickery that lurks behind them. For example, a female celebrity recently posed for a tasteful set of nude photos with a glossy magazine, who published the story with an empowering, “you go girl!” headline. The page’s URL, however, was a chain of sexy keywords that simply ended with “nude-photos.” Things get especially murky once you delve even deeper into the behind-the-scenes sorcery. One tabloid journalist told me she worked on a site where every picture of a female celebrity—including those in full coverage outfits—was tagged with the word “panties.” I’ll also admit to using the phrase “nearly-naked” in headlines just to hit the search term “naked”.
She talks to a lot of female journalists and finds many who wrote clickbait for serious news websites, too — content that wouldn’t be promoted on the front page, but would supply a steady stream of traffic behind the curtain. The Huffington Post’s blatant SEO grabs are perhaps the most, well, blatant:
But, as SEO expert Chase Granberry told told Lloyd, “It’s not that the writers are sexist. It’s that the general public is probably more sexist than not, and in order for publications to get traffic they have to mimic that behaviour.” On this website, we publish informative, funny, well-researched and smartly presented content about lesbian sex for our queer female readers — but of course we also still benefit off the thousands of people every week hoping for something very different when they google “lesbian sex.” As soon as they see that our content isn’t what they were after, they leave the site… but we still get the view. Unfortunately, because lesbian sex is apparently more scandalous than a naked female celebrity, we’re prohibited by ad networks like Google AdSense from running ads on any of that lesbian sex related content. But it helps our egos to see high traffic numbers!
Which is one of many reasons why we’re more than happy about this prediction given to Lloyd by Susan E McGregor from the Tow Center for Digital Journalism: “forward-thinking publishers are moving away from traffic goals completely and thinking more about loyal readership.”
On that note, Hamilton Nolan has a great piece at Gawker, The Problem With Journalism Is You Need An Audience, in which he tells the truth about this business:
Name a publication or media outlet that is a thriving, successful business solely on the basis of its high quality, intellectual, prestigious stories. There are none. If you want to run a publication that only publishes things that are good, you have a few options. You can be a small operation that operates on a relatively shoestring budget (The Awl network, niche journals of all sorts). You can be independently wealthy, and spend that money on your publication (call me please). You can find someone else who is independently wealthy and wants to spend their own money on the publication as a sort of charity (Harpers). You can be the prestige product of a much larger media empire that makes money on a wide array of garbage and sends some of those profits to you to redeem itself (The New Yorker, Grantland). Or, you can somehow convince people to invest in you on the premise that you will be the amazing publication that does make money with pure quality, only to fail when that money runs out (too many to name).
Of course, Nolan’s post was inspired by the shuttering of Al Jazeera America, which will leave us in April, sadly. The Columbia Journalism Review also has some interesting ideas about how this came to be.
This Business of Online Media
+ “Are the dynamics of competing in the digital space encouraging journalists to dish up personal smackdowns even if there’s no real news value in doing so?” (Yes)
+ Gawker Media is looking for additional funding to help them battle Hulk Hogan in court.
+ “The voice of theSkimm is meant to sound like your friend who is in the know telling you what you need to start your day. It’s very conversational.”
+ Melissa Bell, Vice President of growth and analytics at Vox Media and co-founder of Vox.com, talks to Nieman Lab about ad blocking and that Snapchat thing all the kiddos keep talking about.
+ The Wikipedia Endowment aims to raise $100 million over the next 10 years to ensure its ongoing existence now and forevermore, bless it. Here’s a statistical look at Wikipedia‘s 15 years of life in our lives.
+ Dan Abrams of Mediate has launched a new website, LawNewz, “the only destination on the web to offer real-time legal analysis on all the top stories.” Today’s top stories have focused entirely on Steven Avery, obviously.
+ Curation is the new obituary: 16 Ways Media Outlets Marked David Bowie’s life and death.
+ Co-founding editor of The Verge is starting a new digital media project and he talks to re/code about getting money for it, which will be chock full of relevant information for other white men with a lot of rich friends.
+ Univision has acquired a 40% stake in The Onion, which also owns The AV Club and Clickhole, two of my most favorite websites. A majority of the company’s revenue is generated by Onion Labs, which sponsored content videos for advertisers. Univision also owns Fusion.
+ Buzzfeed’s food-related channels are a hit on social media! Imagine that, a Buzzfeed website being popular on social media!
+ Gawker’s Union negotiations are not actually going very well.
+ Revolving Door: 74-year-old Grace Coddington is stepping down from her position as the creative director of Vogue. Choire Sicha is taking a leave from his role at The Awl. Upworthy laid off 14 of its 97 employees and is pivoting towards original video.
+ Today in Paywalls: Journalist Steven Brill talks to Poynter about his time traveling the country trying to convince newspapers to set up paywalls OR DIE. Meanwhile, The Nation is adding a metered paywall: free for new readers, metered for regular readers.
This Business of Journalism
+ Canadian newspaper publisher Postmedia has cut 90 jobs in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa.
+ “Slow Journalism” quarterly magazine Delayed Gratification has 5,000 subscribers and aims to “put a new spin on topics that have already been extensively covered by the mainstream media through contextual analysis, along with original reporting.”
+ The Washington Post on why internet journalists don’t even necessarily want to unionize — they suspect the problem is generational.
National Magazine Awards
In 2012, The American Magazine Awards were roundly criticized for giving almost all of their awards to men, a problem that was not just about sexism and women’s issues reporting not being taken seriously but also quite honestly about women’s magazines not producing or attempting to produce the same depth and quantity of longform journalism as men’s and general interest magazines do. In subsequent years, The Ellies have reflected a concerted effort to avoid gender bias, and this year did so handily.
On the online media front, Refinery29 was nominated for Best Magazine Website / Online-Only Magazine along with Vogue, Bloomberg Businessweek, New York Magazine and Audubon. Other online-only / web-first outlets nominated for various awards include Nautilus for Literature, Science and Politics Publications; Tablet for Special Interest Publications, Slate and BBC News Magazine (US) for multimedia storytelling; Pitchfork and Vice for video features; Buzzfeed News, The Huffington Post and The Intercept for Public Interest reporting; Eater for Leisure Interest journalism; Matter for Reporting, The Marshall Project for Feature Writing, Politico for Feature Photography, Matter for Essays & Criticism and The Intercept for Columns & Commentary.
Caitlyn Jenner’s cover story in Vanity Fair magazine, photographed by queer photographer Annie Lebowitz, was nominated for feature photography.
The End Times
+ 37% of ad traffic is bots, LOL
+ Vox is embracing programmatic advertising and apparently “The Verge is known to charge up to $27 CPMs” (our CPMs are about 50 cents)
+ Slate reports that it’s losing about 8% of its revenue due to ad blockers.
+ Apple is considering buying all of or part of Time Warner.
+ how can we be both makers and managers? (SWLH)
+ how to grow a great team (design*sponge)
+ tips from queer entrepreneurs to inspire your business in 2016 (autostraddle)
+ 7 Lunch Recipes You Can Prep on Sunday (everup)
+ the difference between routine and ritual (brain pickings)