This Business Of Art Fix #21: Nothing Is Off-Limits, Everything Is Content

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.


+ 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.

How to report on communities that aren’t your own.

+ 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.”

+ How Fusion wants to create an investigative journalism franchise for The Daily Show Generation with its new TV series.

+ 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.

+ Vice wants to reinvent the TV ad model.

+ 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)

how to optimize your resume to be read on mobile (linkedin)

don’t tell people what to do, tell them what you do (inc)

how to build life-changing habits through tiny changes (lifehacker)

finding a good financial advisor for tax season (the billfold)

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, 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. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3177 articles for us.


  1. “We believe it’s the most inclusive and empowering word to speak to and about the community.”

    Oh, yeah, The Huffington Post is so inclusive, particularly when you see this and you try to find a woman on the list:

    The HuffPost Queer Voices Team

    Noah Michelson, Editorial Director
    Curtis M. Wong, Senior Editor
    JamesMichael Nichols, Deputy Editor
    Michelangelo Signorile, Editor-at-Large

    • Not only that but really only women and genderqueer people have embraced or attempted to reclaim queer. Men generally do not and often seem very hostile to attempts to reclaim the word.

      • That hasn’t really been my experience with men and the word queer – but I move in academic circles, so maybe that’s different?

        • i feel like it might be ’cause i definitely feel like gay cis men haven’t been as eager to reclaim queer as les/bi/gay/pan women and non-binary and trans folks have

      • This piece was written by James Peron as a response to Noah Michelson’s article.

        I’m gonna share some quotes that really made me think about this issue:

        ” I didn’t live Mr. Michelson’s life. He sure didn’t live mine. He thinks, ‘Queer’ functions as an umbrella term that includes not only the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people of ‘LGBT’, but also those whose identities fall in between, outside of or stretch beyond those categories, including genderqueer people, intersex people, asexual people, pansexual people, polyamorous people and those questioning their sexuality or gender, to name just a few.’

        Fair enough, but it also excludes all the asexual, polyamorous, pansexuals, gays, bisexual, lesbians and transgender individuals who find ‘queer’ insulting, degrading and painful. It excludes huge segments of the community, who didn’t have Mr. Michelson’s life.

        ‘Queer’ is a traumatic, painful word for many of us. To have it inflicted us by our allies is no less traumatic and painful. If anything, it is worse. I don’t expect human decency or understanding from the bigots. But, here I feel as if I’m again being told I’m not welcome, I’m an outsider. I’m not one of the ‘in-kids’ that everyone had to make happy. My pain, my experience–they don’t matter. Once again, thanks to the ‘queer’ term, I’m being locked out and excluded.

        I’ve never denied another person the right to embrace whatever term they want. But, I’m not embracing ‘queer’, it is being imposed on me, just like it was when I was growing up. ”

        He added this, as a comment:

        ” After this column I will no longer allow any of my pieces to appear on the new page. I feel this is generational myopia. A younger generation who have very different lives, thanks to the work of those older than themselves, now use their different experiences to justify the change. That simply ignores the feelings of people who were bullied and battered by people spewing ‘queer’ at them as an insult. The life experiences of younger people apparently matter, the experiences of older veterans in the fight for rights don’t. ”

        I think it’s very difficult to considered yourself %100 inclusive, it’s almost impossible.

        What made me relate to James Peron was the word ‘tortillera’. I had some similar experiences, as the ones he describes, as a young girl. OK, fine, you can call yourself whatever the hell you want, but if you ever use that word in my case, in any minor reference to my person, I don’t care if my teeth end up on the floor, you won’t walk away freely with that. That’s how much I HATE that fucking word.

    • I subscribed to Gay Voices and noticed the majority of coverage was for gay men. Hopefully with the new name they’ll make an effort to include lesbian and bi women’s stories.

      • “The majority of coverage was for gay men”, this was the reason I stopped really reading this section, most of the times I just click the links they use and read the original source.

        I’m not really sure that changing the name is gonna help if you don’t add some new blood (women) to the team.

        • Most of their columnists are unpaid and a lot of their content is lifted from other sites without permission, it’s probably easier to find men willing to be columnists for a huge rich media company for free than it is women.

          I feel like that guy has a point, anyhow — it isn’t a catchall phrase and people who think it is do tend to be young. There is no perfect word or totally inclusive word.

          • The biggest problem I have with the change it’s not actually the name, although I do understand the feelings and rejection this may bring for a great number of people.

            It’s the idea that you’re trying to sell this as an almost revolutionary change, when in reality it’s just a little makeup.

  2. I have yet to read an everup article without feeling like I’ve read the same thing a million times before.

    That article on resumes and mobile was really useful, though. I never thought about a recruiter opening my app on their mobile but it does make sense and will definitely be of use in future job hunting!

    • Yeah, I’m looking at my resume on my phone right now. Such an obvious thing, but something I hadn’t thought of before!

  3. I really loved the top-chunk, mini-article about your thoughts on confessional journalism. These fixes are awesome, even when I don’t get to read many of the things linked.

  4. Gods, I just read The Establishment’s piece you mentioned and I can’t believe my own eyes. “Nothing is off limits. Everything is content” sounds like an ad coming from one of those dystopian novels you see in bookshops right now.

  5. I have just discovered this column (or ‘clumn’ as I initially typed) and it is fantastic.

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