Business Of Art Fix #26: Everybody Wants To Get Paid (Subscriptions)

Hello and welcome to the 26th Business of Art fix, in which I talk about how Facebook is going to eat your soul for breakfast and everybody has more money than us but it doesn’t matter because we have love. We are rich in love.


This Business of Online Media

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+ Medium has decided what medium is! Medium is going to be a platform for small publishers — indie publications who could definitely benefit from outsourcing the tech, SEO and design aspects of their operations and who could use the eyeball boost enabled by the medium network. There’s some monetization options too, which I think involves Medium doing the (very expensive) legwork of developing relationships with sponsors. They’re also enabling publishers to offer paid subscriptions (the wave of the future! we told you so!). Honestly this is something that I think we would’ve considered ourselves a few years back, but so much of what makes us different is that we really have made this our space, as sprawling and erratic as it sometimes may seem. The Billfold moved to Medium a few weeks back, which I still haven’t gotten used to, and now The Awl and The Pacific Standard are amongst many platforms who have moved! Nieman Lab describes this shift as the “gentrification of Internet publishing.”

+ Slant is taking a few weeks off to retool its business model.

+ Buzzfeed didn’t make as much money in 2015 as they expected — $170m, rather than $250m — and have adjusted their 2016 revenue projections accordingly. Buzzfeed says the numbers are off, and insists that they are “very pleased with where BuzzFeed is today and where it will be tomorrow. We are very comfortable with where the digital content world is going and think we are well-positioned.” This is probably true. Gawker suggests that “if this aberration turns out to be a long-term trend, the era of the Millennial-focused, growth-obsessed, venture capital-funded media organization may be ending sooner than we think.”

+ “The Wirecutter is an example of what’s possible when people stop doing things the way everyone else is doing them and carve their own path—based on principles and authenticity.” (Another example of that would be autostraddle dot com!) They’ve done it by embracing affiliate marketing rather than traditional ads (we’ve had similar success for the same reason).

+ Yes indeed, Facebook Instant is cutting traffic to websites.

+ Upworthy is pivoting away from clickbait towards original content.

+ Doing more video isn’t easy, and won’t save publishers desperate for growth.

+ Mashable is laying a bunch of people off and doubling down on video.

+ Yahoo! is having some struggles.


This Business of Journalism and Print

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My BFF Diane

+ “What is the value of NPR’s core journalistic offerings—the brief, sober dispatches that air every day on its flagship shows Morning Edition and All Things Considered—in an age when its terrestrial audience is growing older and younger listeners seem to prefer addictive, irreverent, and entertaining podcasts over the news?” [Am I old? Because I still listen to Morning Edition and All Things Considered and rarely listen to podcasts.]

+ Here, read this SPECTACULAR SPECTACULAR terrible terrible thing on The Observer in which a man is very upset about what happened to his interview and has dated a model and was friends with a gay guy who tried to launch his own line and also hit on straight men. Then read “Spurned Elle Writer Goes On Truly Bananas Rant, Torches Every Single Bridge in Media.”

+ Everybody was talking about Gay Talese’s sexist comments at Boston University instead of talking about his recent New Yorker article about a guy who spied on motel guests’ sexual exploits without their consent for decades and even caused and then witnessed a murder he did nothing to stop! But also that guy might have been lying about the murder in the first place.

Gay magazines are so white! And also so straight! Out magazine has featured more straight white cisgender men on its cover than LGBTQ people of color! Isn’t that cool.

+ “Too often, we are clumsy in handling issues of race and gender and this story was another unfortunate example.”

+ How NPR and ProPublica exposed America’s busted worker’s comp situation.

+ “Jackie” from the Rolling Stone rape story will have to testify in a defamation suit.

+ Jacobin, a socialist magazine with 20,000 subscribers to its print magazine, one million monthly unique visitors to its website and six full-time employees is kicking ass.

+ People are getting on board with “they” as a singular pronoun.

+ Hilde Lysiak, though.

+ How universities price the public out of access to public records.


The End Times

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talks about the company's 10-year roadmap during his keynote address Tuesday at the F8 Facebook Developer Conference in San Francisco.

+ Facebook gave a keynote full of important things I don’t understand. I think Facebook Live is the main thing, this live video idea? Where is everybody watching all this video! Do you all wear headphones at work or something? Anybody can do it by the way, any publisher who wants to can stream live video! What will you stream live today???

+ Facebook is trying to stop these fake news sites that make shit-tons of money but fake news cannot be stopped.

+ So less people are making “personal posts” on Facebook and Facebook doesn’t know how to make people start spilling their guts again so they can mine your guts for data.

+ SHOCKER: All those fresh new upstarts taking a fresh new hot approach to a new generation of online media journalism are… funded by old media!

Screenshot 2016-04-11 21.14.03


Businesswoman’s Special

six ways to make your commute less stressful (autoinsurance)

7 proven conversation questions (and why they work) (i will teach you to be rich)

help for your 5 most common financial problems (the smarter dollar)

getting the most from your remote workforce (entrepreneur)

+ 10 kitchen gadgets to wean you off takeout (the daily dot)

+ creating espacios: how to create your own space (forbes woman)


Finally, if you’re into the Business of Art and live in Southeastern Michigan, we’re hiring!

Riese is the 38-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish 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 2822 articles for us.

52 Comments

    • I really liked the piece that Riese linked to. It seems like they’re pretty self aware, but how does it fare in terms of issues re: sexuality, race, gender ? I don’t want to fall in love with three articles and then realize I’m in the equivalent of a Bernie Bros fap party.

      • In Jacobin you can find writers as Kate Redburn and Samantha Allen. Probably not related, but any place that has Slavoj Žižek writings will always have a special place in my heart.

        In 2013 Kate Redburn published this article about Equal Marriage in Argentina and our Gender Law. It has some very interesting points:

        “A key difference lies in how the campaigns for gay marriage have been framed. In the states, visitation, property and parenting rights are always used as the standard against which the rights of gay people are measured. This framework accepts as given the monogamous, nuclear family model, no longer the norm even among straight couples. The American movement makes a sterile appeal to legal equality under the state and federal constitutions, which amounts to little more than a gutless cry for inclusion in broken institutions.
        Argentina’s campaign for matrimonio igualitario didn’t rely on these kinds of comparisons, but instead asserted that gay Argentines are entitled to basic human rights. Unlike the US, “human rights” in Argentina does not recall distant conflicts, but connects to a domestic legacy marked by cycles of democracy and violence. It’s a legal demand to be certain, but it carries additional moral resonance.”

        “Over and over again the Human Rights Campaign and other Gay, Inc. nonprofits have sold out the trans community in order to make small political gains”

        One thing I really need to clarify is that Jacobin shows, in almost every article, is the classic Marxist concepts of Infrastructure (means of production and relations of production) and Superstructure (ideology, institutions, political structures, etc.). The use of this concepts means that every battle is just part of a bigger battle, which doesn’t mean that the little battles are useless but the real objective is to bring down the Base or Infrastructure. Yes, it may sound very outdated but, in my opinion, several philosophical and political concepts created by Marx were never really discredit just forgotten in line of new trends. Personally, I always relate Marxist concepts to Feminism.

        This, from 2015, is one of my favorite articles, already posted in a comment I’ve made before

        https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/09/welfare-republicans-sam-brownback-race-corporations/

        • I mean I agree that Marxism concepts helps us understand how Patriarchy oppresses women + people of colour + LGBT + disabled people + any other minority really. Capitalism is the societal system for the straight white male.

          BUT there is also a difference in usage between Marxist theory in critical studies (doing exactly this) AND Marxist as a political ideology and how it is used, which sometimes completely ignores other issues/is populated by straight white males as well not letting women, people of colour, queer or disabled people have a voice in the debate…

          So I’m glad to hear about the contributions that they have in Jacobin ! Thanks, I’ll check it out!

          • “Marxist as a political ideology and how it is used, which sometimes completely ignores other issues/is populated by straight white males as well not letting women, people of colour, queer or disabled people have a voice in the debate…”

            Totally agree with this. I was kicked out of the FJC (Communist Youth Federation) in 2001 because those little men couldn’t understand how limited our resources were and how limited their fight was.

  1. KITCHEN GADGETS !!! (these lists always excite me wayyy too much).

    Also that “Elle on Earth” dude maybe is having a nervous breakdown? I can’t believe he worked for Charlie Hebdo! Also I hate when French people behave in a way abroad that make other people say “UGH he’s so French”.

    But the thing is… “he’s SO French”.

  2. That fake news article was horrifying! That’s different than people being too stupid to recognize a satirical news site like The Onion, or people who quote from Wikipedia as if it were gospel.

    I’m a lawyer, and even I don’t understand how deliberately publishing “news” you know to be fake as if it were real is not illegal. I guess if you never mention real peoples’ names, they you can’t be sued for defamation or libel, , but still, there’s gotta be some law against deliberately misleading the public for nothing more than your own financial gain. I guess maybe if they published “news” that someone took as truth, and then relied on to their detriment somehow, that could be a tort action. But I’m guessing these fake news sites are probably smart enough to stay away from publishing anything about stock markets or elections. Gah. I hope Facebook works this one out.

    • Oh damn. This comment on the Buzzfeed article about fake news sites just blew my mind. A lot to think about here.

      “Tanya Marquette · Gardiner, New York
      I have a contrary concern to this issue. This article focuses on sensationalistic type fakery. However, who is to decide what is fake news. Fox News is notorious for broadcasting fake news and blatant propaganda. They use the military to write reports as if it were real news; they allow Big Pharma to define what is real in health when all that they do is sell propaganda. Will such efforts described in this article begin to deal with these lies-as-news? And who is to decide that opinions and research not supported by large corporate interests are fake. When Monsanto controls what the FDA accepts as ‘legitimate’ GMO research and then denies the validity of 100’s of independent studies in order to control media coverage in their favor will these ploys and false statements be exposed and limited?

      This whole issue verges on serious censorship. Since the media is full of lies as news supported by corporate interests, I fear this whole issue is a back door effort to create legal censorship for information shared easily over the internet. The entire battle for an open internet has been about creating barriers to easy communication and sharing of information that is not controllable by the powers elite. Thus, this article is seriously remiss in not raising this question.”

      • Censorship is a dangerous thing but sometimes it feels like “free speech” is equally so. I hate the links to fake news sites and yet I get so made that I click the link. I will read the “article” and actually try to find the original source. Usually if I find a source it is from some outdated news article or propaganda site. If people could only use some critical thinking they would see that these sites are dangerous. Sometimes I feel like maybe if we just used our brains instead of letting “news” play on our emotions, we would be able to stop some of this.

    • Even more to say – this goes to the idea of personally curating your social media circles. I don’t see many of these types of fake news articles on my Facebook newsfeed, because I’m not likely to be Facebook friends with people who believe and/or link to these types of sites. And if I do become friends with a person who does that, and I see it happen to often, I delete or block them, because those aren’t the type of people I want in my life, and they definitely aren’t the type of people I want on my newsfeed.

      And then sometimes I feel like maybe I’m TOO shielded from the stupider parts of the Internet because I deliberately try to cull that out of my social media (and my life in general).

    • But won’t these fake new sites gain reputations as unreliable and no longer be a problem? They seem like the kind of thing that would fade to the background as gossip once enough people recognized them as fake. Honestly, when I read that article I wasn’t thinking about the impact of fake news on the world and was instead rooting for whatever group of website was giving Facebook trouble. I don’t understand why Facebook needs to be in the market of filtering out fake news. Facebook is supposed to give a platform for its users, not prioritize what their users are saying based on whether or not they’re true. Maybe it’s the approach I disagree with. If Facebook wanted to put their own post in my newsfeed stating that they have been noticing a trend in sharing a certain website that is not in fact credible news, fine. But trying to sort people’s newsfeeds so that they don’t even see those fake websites when their friends post them? Why does Facebook think that’s it’s job?

      Of course, this is fueled by my general opinion that I think the Facebook newsfeed algorithm has too much power and shouldn’t be sorting my news so much anyway.

      • So far, I think the fake news stuff has been mostly just a nuisance, but fake news that people believe is real news could be really harmful, depending on what the fake news is. Think about the bullshit Fox spits out. If fake news sites like National Report start publishing “news” stories about gays or Muslims doing terrible things? That’s extremely harmful.

        As for gaining reputations, well what the fake news guy quoted in the story has said is he just changes his domain – Facebook will shut down one site, and he’ll create three more.

        I agree that the censorship angle is problematic – who decides what is fake news and what’s not? I don’t want it to be some dudes over at Facebook HQ. And I don’t want legit satire sites to get caught up in the purge as well.

  3. So glad AS won’t migrate to a platform like Medium! It just wouldn’t be the same. It would be like moving from that bookstore down the street that has a Bookshop Cat and a display of the owner’s esoteric art prints…to Borders.

    Oh, I’m old. I meant Barnes and Noble.

  4. I have a question about they as a singular pronoun. Whenever I use it, I really want to use the word “themself”. For example, say “My friend painted their room themself”. And that’s not a real word. Does anyone do this or are you supposed to just say “themselves”?

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