Welcome to the biweekly Business of Art Fix, in which we dig deep into the backstage antics of this job we call arts/media/writing/internet.
GIVE ME YOUR HEART AND GUTS
+ xoJane editor Amber Rambharose works at xoJane, and therefore is in the business of the female confessional essay and also she is a female and has some things she could potentially confess. But she doesn’t want to. Her boss Jane Pratt would like her to open up more, but she doesn’t want to, but then she had a panic attack at work and was like, FINE, and wrote this essay about it. At Gawker, Rich Juzwiak told Rambharose You Don’t Owe It To Your Boss To Turn Your Trauma Into Content For Time Inc, saying “…as troubled by her job as she appears to be, Rambharose’s description of her misgivings is a refreshing read at a time when it’s very easy to take for granted just how brutal the experience of pouring your life onto the internet can be.”
Personally, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with confessional writing, I think it helps normalize a lot of experiences and does its own kind of consciousness-raising. Some of my favorite writing ever would fall into this category. But of course with any industry there’s exploitation and this one is SO RIPE for it. You may remember this great piece by Mandy Stadmiller about how she felt in an editor position that made her feel like “a first-person human trafficker.” In related news, The Establishment has a somewhat satirical piece (?) this week asking if memoir writing makes you crazy, and the answer seems to be yes, and also it makes the people in your life a little crazy too, and kind of makes them hate you. Personally, I really love writing about myself and the people in my life… but I hesitate for one reason: I started A-Camp and hired all my friends to work there, therefore creating a three-dimensional business relationship between all of my friends and a good chunk of my readers and supporters. Obviously, starting Autostraddle with all my friends was where the trouble began, but A-Camp really sealed the deal. Can I write honestly about my former and present relationships to a group of people who know the girls I’m talking about and, furthermore, pay to attend camps they run and work at? Can Laneia and I write honestly about our friendship when this business rests on its very laurels? This shit is hard to navigate!
But all journalists struggle with the overlap of personal and professional online. A new study about journalists and branding has a lot of interesting insights. When it comes to how journalists “brand” their social media and online life, “if journalists choose to present too much of a personal identity, they risk punishment by their employers. If they present only a professional identity, they risk offending their audiences.” Aside from MySpace in 2005-2006, I’ve never existed as just a person — not a brand / writer — on any social media networks. Thank goddess the foundation of this whole damn ship is authenticity and realness or I might suffocate.
This Business of Online Media
+ Huffington Post Gay Voices is changing their name to Huffington Post Queer Voices, giving the most aggressively search-engine-optimized web platform in the universe domination over the one and only LGBTQ-related search term previously dominated by independent media. (I’m not even talking about us here, but about alt-weeklies and indie blogs.)
+ Buzzfeed’s traffic is flat and it didn’t meet its revenue goals (but still made a ton of money), so they’ve slowed down hiring and lowered ad prices. Meanwhile, some advertisers are cooling on the platform strategy in general, and: “While brands are still in love with BuzzFeed’s distribution model, they don’t have the same blind faith in BuzzFeed from a branded content creation standpoint. BuzzFeed has been skating on the ‘Dear Kitten’ example, but I can name like five of them from The New York Times. [The Times] is more able to deliver high-quality things that you remember.”
+ Google has removed 19 stories from search results under Europe’s “right to be forgotten” rules, and gay news site PinkNews is unimpressed, therefore is republishing the stories on their own site.
+ The Intercept has discovered a reporter working for them since November 2014 had fabricated quotes and created fake g-mail addresses to pose as other writers and impersonate sources. The reporter tells CNN that Betsy is lying.
+ Local News Lab is looking for new business models for local news.
+ Refinery 29 has an app, it’s a “one-stop news source for those who want to be in-the-know.”
+ Why aren’t more publishers making readers turn off ad blockers in order to access their content? If publishers are losing so much money, and the solutions seem to work, why aren’t they pushing the anti-ad-blocking message harder? Mostly because they’re afraid of vexing readers.
+ Good G-d Fusion has a “social storytelling team” and it contains like, multiple people.
This Business of Journalism
+ MTV news has hired Ana Marie Cox, founding editor of Wonkette (the politics blog that Gawker unloaded some time ago, only to later decide they need a politics blog.)
+ Guns & Ammo, Not Just Another Tech Magazine. Apparently.
+ “In interviews, nearly a dozen current and former employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal matters, lamented a focus on the bottom line and a relentless pursuit of web traffic.” On the future of Condé Nast, the biggest fish in the pond.
+ Salon has re-published a 1994 piece about Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone Magazine.
+ In the Life and Death and Life Of Magazines, Evan Ratliff argues that we have been mourning the death of magazines since the birth of magazines.
+ “The New York Times is launching a film and TV recommendation tool which will help users make sense of the ever more complex streaming video landscape. The product’s focus will be service-based and distinct from the criticism and coverage in our daily report; its goals will be to help users decide what movies and TV shows are worth their limited time, and make it easy for them to find and watch them. ”
+ Al Jazeera reporters prove their excellence by starting a website to help themselves get jobs when the site shuts down.
+ “The photos compel viewers to wonder what they would have done in her place. For those who have never encountered such violence in real life, it’s unnerving.”
The End Times
+ FUCK. “When e-mail first entered offices, people liked it for the same reason workers love office chat: It provided entertainment under the guise of productivity.”
+ At Elite Daily, traffic is down but advertising income is up.
+ Uber’s new logo, two years in the making!
+ “The tweak is the latest in a long line of similar changes to the News Feed algorithm, which Facebook says it is constantly optimizing around creating a better experience for users — often to the detriment of content creators. ” (I think the latest tweak might benefit us, though, as it looks for genuinely engaging stories rather than clickbait. CROSS YOUR FINGERS!)
The Businesswoman’s Special
8 ways to optimize your to-do list (everup)
lgbt-inclusive businesses are better at three big things (harvard business review)
finding a good financial advisor for tax season (the billfold)