This Business Of Art Fix #18: “Millennials As A Symbol of American Decline” Is The Worst

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

+ Here is the best and worst journalism of 2015 according to the Columbia Journalism Review. If you, like me, ARE the worst, you will really enjoy sinking your teeth into what they deem the worst, which includes Gawker’s big gaffe with the Conde Nast outing and subsequent fallout, Donald Trump, and “Millennials as a symbol of American decline”:

Crafting doomsday Millennial scenarios has become something of an artform. There are apocalyptic predictions of how the generation’s use of technology leads to moral decay, doubts they can handle adult political discussions,” and lectures on entitlement and disengagement. Reporting and commentary too often veer away from actual differences of this generation—in demographics, in education, in economic prospects—to focus on already tired social tropes. A more useful starting point would be to focus on how young people are using new technology to do young people things. Until then, we’ll swipe left.

Also a sore spot? “Millennial-focused outlets’ interviews with President Barack Obama this year both failed to distinguish them from old media and highlighted shortcomings of their current offerings.”

+ The New York Times‘ twenty stories that best captured your attention in 2015 — #1 is about whether or not to have a big wedding, followed by the saga of Justine Sacco, Inside Amazon and “to fall in love with anyone, do this.” I hope that worked out for everybody.

This Business of Online Media

+ John Herrman at The Awl continues being smart and wise, this time with Access Denied, a compelling look at how celebrities and politicians developing their own platforms via social media has eroded yet another element of the Media Machine: publications as the sole conduit of information from Very Important People to People. Which has also led to the news-makers being more comfortable rejecting coverage from those who refuse positive coverage and privileging those who provide it, as explained in this article from Kotaku about being blacklisted by Bethesda and Ubisoft.

This turn of events is relevant to film reviewers, too, all of whom were denied press copies and/or screenings of the new Star Wars movie. Sportswriters are losing access to athletes, celebrity journalists are losing access to celebrities, and there’s confusion over the right to access for journalists in general, as played out in Mizzou. “Cooperation was never the default,” Hermann asserts, “But the calculation changes significantly when news outlets have less to offer.”

+ The ad-blocking apocalypse isn’t a thing quite yet. “The good news from publishers’ perspective is that the mobile ad apocalypse does not seem to have arrived — yet, at least.” Turns out most mobile users haven’t installed ad-blockers. Other interesting tidbits:

  • Bild, a publisher in Germany, made a system where content is blocked for ad-blocker users, forcing those users to disable or pay.
  • had a $30/year Premium program they launched during the dot-com bust in 2001, which peaked in 2004 with 89,100 subscribers and was down to under 8,000 when they discontinued it in 2014, which “all came down to what’s the amount work going into supporting this versus how much we’re taking in revenue wise. Once the ROI doesn’t balance out, it made sense to turn it off.”
  • Slate is finding success with Slate Plus, which has over 10,000 members, and by charging overseas readers for access beyond five articles a month. The reason for that is one we also struggle with here — we work with domestic advertisers, and they refuse to pay for international impressions.

+ Finally, an article about how annoying it is to chase a little x around on your screen to get rid of an adHow bad are these online ads? (VERY BAD.) That’s why we don’t run any of them.

+ We feel this so hard because of the ridiculous ads that show up so often on our site that we have to play whack-a-mole with — The Guardian is annoyed that it’s so hard to keep gun ads off their site.

+ Paywalls didn’t work at The Sun UK because it limited scale as well as their ability to be “a part of the social fabric of the country.” Instead they’re going to focus on advertisers.

+ Mallory Ortberg talks about her personal finances and financial health and funding The Toast at The Financial Diet.

+ “Hopes and Fears” is a new magazine that wants to “shine a light on the lesser-known corners of the modern urban experience.”

The Awl is currently hiring wizards.

This Business of Journalism

+ Diane Rehm is retiring. :-(

+ The Columbia Journalism Review has a piece on  Jeff Schmalz, “the man who transformed how The New York Times covers the gay community,” from the perspective of a writer who covered the Pride Parade for him in 1982:

Jeff burned for the Times to cover gay people and issues in a way that wasn’t exotic or judgmental, and he knew the newsroom politics well enough to recognize that such change would not happen easily. Young, straight, sympathetic reporters like me were Jeff’s stealthy emissaries. After all, these were the days when official Times style forbade using the word “gay” except as part of a direct quote.

+ The New York Times is doing a two-part series on the future of local investigative journalism.

+ The National Association of Black Journalists is facing a budget shortage and possibly folding, which is unacceptable.

Print is the new “new media.” I love it.

+ “Mostly, I remember wearing a terrible dress to talk to this genial man about how I felt about working for the magazine. Yes, I was a student at a progressive women’s college, but glossy magazines excited me and frankly, I had no problem with lad’s mags, here or abroad.”

+ Journalists and news outlets have failed, utterly, to cover the actual lives and deeds of the One Percent and make plain the terrifying power they hold over our public discourse and public policy.

The End Times

+ Facebook is tweaking its instant articles to make it easier for publishers to generate revenue.

+ 2016: The Year Publishers Get Smarter About Platforms.

+ Could Facebook be the next big platform for podcasts? COULD IT??

+ Disney invested another $200 million in Vice Media, bringing their share of the company to 10%.

+ A new class at USC teaches students how to produce stories for social media.

+ Yet another start-up aiming to “disrupt the daily meal industry,” Yumist, has landed $2 million to expand from three cities to eight.

+ The CEO Paying Everyone $70,000 Salaries Has Something To Hide: One of those things is that he is going to court on charges of spousal abuse. No really, you need to read this one.

Businesswoman’s Special

+ 7 Ways to Promote Your Products for People Who Hate Self-Promotion (xoSarah)

+ The Introvert’s Guide to Surviving Holiday Parties (everup)

+ This is for everybody who works here: Ten Tips For Managing a Moody Boss (forbes)

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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 3223 articles for us.


  1. The “to fall in love with anybody, do this” thing was a series of questions you ask and answer. I did it on a second date. Sure, we fell in love – for six months. ;-)

  2. ‘Was it altruism or a costly lawsuit that motivated it?’ Why on earth does it matter beyond determining how ‘nice’ the CEO is?

    Maybe I’m a filthy socialist or whatever but I don’t see why the brother, whose only contribution seems to be owning shares, deserves the money more than the people who work there (nor do I understand why the CEO should be so generously paid). Put me down in the ‘providing a service and goods for employees’ column, this maximizing profits for shareholders thing is bullshit.
    That said, the CEO dude still sounds like a real asshole.

  3. re: the introverts guide to holiday parties-
    “Let people be self centered” is so key! My enjoyment around parties with older people/family events pretty much doubled when I was told that when I’m asked things like “So do you have a job lined up for after college?” I can just turn it around on the person asking the question. “No, I’m not sure yet. What did you do right after college?” Old people never get asked about themselves, and their answer is honestly likely to make you less stressed out about your job prospects.
    (also works for: “How are college applications going” “How did you pick your university? Did you like it?” “What’s your major” “What did you major in? How did you pick it?” “Boyfriend/girlfriend in the picture?” “How did you and (current partner) meet?” etc)

    Other key technique I’ve picked up: hiding in the kitchen to do the dishes. Generally the host is so grateful that someone is doing the dishes that they only protest a little bit when you take a 20 minute break from exhausting small talk to wash some plates.

    • whoops I think I accidentally screwed something up here. that giant blank space is supposed to be “current partner”

    • That is such a kind and “adult” way to handle those situations. I usually mull over whether this is the year I’ll tell the old folks to mind their damn business and just let me eat. I always decide that its not and I hide in the children’s area.

  4. I always love this column and its contents, but before I delve into the tab-spiral, I would like to thank you for making the feature image My Hero Trish Walker. (If Netflix did extra content, wouldn’t a Trish Talk podcast be perfect?)

  5. I tried to read about the lack of paywall on The Sun’s website because how online media becomes part of the ‘fabric of society’ or whatever, while being profitable. However, has anyone not from the UK ever read The Sun? It’s like smashing your own face with a brick. I just couldn’t do it.

    • Every time I wait for a sandwich from my local caff I read a page or two. Smashing your face with a brick is a fair analogy for reading the Sun.

  6. Ironically, today is the first time I’ve ever seen a “floater” ad on Autostraddle, and it was super obnoxious. I don’t even know what it was trying to advertise (I think it wanted me to take a survey). Do you guys have a place to report unpleasant ads?

  7. Adblocking on your phone is not working yet because most of the times Google is banning the apps (ABP), the free versions are crap or you need to be a root user to make it work (not an easy task for everyone). But Eyeo, the creators of ABP, have a little thing called Adblock Browser. It’s a work in progress, in my opinion, because it’s a bit slow for my taste, but it works.

  8. “I hope that worked out for everybody.” – LOL.

    Also this End Times section. Laughing, crying, okay, both. Thanks as always xx

  9. As a child of the 80’s, I can say that the American civilization and the rest of the world is safe. We were a little limited with our technology, but my walkman and my first dinosaur-gigantic-too-slow computer didn’t kill the world, as everybody told me back in the day.

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