Welcome to the third “This Business of Art / Media / Web Fix,wp_postsin which I share with you things I read that I loved relating to the work I do here — online media, business, entrepreneurship, women in tech, start-ups, journalism, publishing, management, queer visibility, and so forth. You can expect this sucker to drop every-other Wednesday.
So so so so much stuff to talk about this week, my friends. SO MUCH STUFF.
This Business Of Online Media
+ Take Time, by John Herrman for The Awl – This article — which’s from September, but I just now discovered it — addresses one of the things I hate most on the internet! I’ve read this article like 45 times and have been eagerly anticipating my opportunity to discuss it with you, right here, right now. It uses the then-recent leak of celebrity nude photos as an example story from which to discuss a phenomenon labeled “Take Time”:
This throws the Content industry into a frantic generative mode, initiating a full-spectrum stress test on par with a natural disaster or a war. This weekend was a consumption bonanza, a historic seller’s market for Content was no time for mere reports and analysis, no, that would never be enough. It was Take Time…
There were dozens more of these stories, all about a single tweet, from virtually every outlet that publishes news. And they served their purpose admirably: They left no attention on the table. They represent the “we should have something on thiswp_postsnews impulse stripped to its barest form, left unspoken and carried out as a matter of course. Endless minimalist Takes, obviously duplicative from the producer’s side but not necessarily from the other, all drawing energy from a single glowing unit of information…
Everyone with an outlet—or, really, everyone, since the great democratization of Take distribution tools coaxed previously private Takes out from bars and dining rooms and into the harsh sunlight—found themselves under the spell of that horrible force that newspaper columnists feel every week, the one that eventually ruins every last one: the dreadful pull of a guaranteed audience.
I know we’ve done this in the past but eventually I couldn’t take it anymore, even though takes are good for traffic. The Dish wrote piece about that piece including even MORE words that I agree with wholeheartedly:
The problem is that generating actual news is difficult, time-consuming and expensive. Writing incisive analysis requires time to process, reflect, and refine one’s arguments. But the Internet needs those Takes now, while the topic is trending:… The “we need to have something on this” impulse leads to the worst (professional) writing on the web. We all learn this anew each time some poor 20-something content producer writes some exceptionally dumb take, and everyone spends a few hours piling on the outlet that published it. But the attention-grabbing Offensive Takes only obscure the fact that all the inoffensive takes – the ephemeral, aggregated, feather-light blog posts telling people who already know that something happened that something happened, produced solely in the hopes that the post will, through luck and a bit of dark magic, win the Facebook algorithm lottery – are the most depressing pieces of writing on the web, for the reader and the writer.
+ Which brings me to A Second Look At The Giant Garbage Pile That Is Online Media. This post describes everything I never want us to be.
+ Over at Buzzmachine, Jeff Jarvis argued that we shouldn’t blame the businesses, we should blame the business model:
…shoot the business model and the presumptions of mass media economics. That is what is causing this ridiculous treadmill of making content for content’s sake to get audience for audience’s sake with any original reporting or original thinking being copied and copied again and again until it looks like a the fuzzy, unreadable, 87th Xerox copy of a bad carbon copy. That is what makes media companies think the answer to any business problem is to make more content because that’s what we content makers do. The problem is that the old business model of mass media rewards volume not value.
…I agree, which’s why it’s never been our business model. (advertising is only 12% of our revenue). (Sidenote: If you agree, please join A+! It’s A+ that enables us to cater our work to you, rather than to advertisers, and makes it possible for us to run a site that’ll never make you watch an ad to see content or run site skins or pop-ups.) (Also I talk quite a bit of business of art in The A+ Insider.)
+ In What Has Been Going On, Jacob Clifton talks about TWOP’s shuttering last year, his brief stint at Gawker, and what he’s gonna do now. Jacob Clifton is the second television recapper I fell in love with and his Battlestar recaps are true works of art. He writes that “the first quarter of 2015 was spent discerning exactly what I was interested in—writing, specifically self-publishing, focusing on fiction; getting over my conception of myself as a “company man,wp_postsas some kind of soldier that wants in from the cold—and what I was not interested in, which was: Ever writing about media again in my life.” Ultimately that soul-searching led him to decide to devote himself to writing and publishing fiction, publishing recap collections as e-books, and blogging a lot. I’m really excited to see what he does next!
+ In Slack Off, Amanda Hess digs into Slack, the program that we use for our “virtual office” here at Autostraddle. It’s also what Gawker Media uses, and what Slate uses. Although it’s made everything in general about five thousand times better and provides ample fodder for The A+ Insider, we’ve begun to notice an unfortunate side-effect of the service which is summed up pretty accurately in this article:
Once employees get addicted to Slack, bosses can drop in to track their every move. Deadspin has instituted “a rule called ‘Slack law,’ where if you’re riffing on something for a particular amount of time on Slack, you have to turn that shit into a post,wp_postssays Howard. The rule is a smart editorial insight—if Deadspin staffers can’t stop Slacking about something, that’s a pretty good indication that it will be of interest to readers, too—but it also prevents employees from “talking on and on forever, never working, just enjoying each other’s presence.wp_postsSlack too much, and Howard worries they’ll “make me blog instead of working on whatever project I’m doing,wp_postsso “when I’m actually writing,wp_postshe says, “I try to get the fuck out of Slack.wp_postsNothing quiets a boisterous Slack channel like a Slate editor dropping in to ask, “Who can turn this conversation into a piece of content for Slate.com?”
After reading the article, we have decided to create our own version of Slack Law, and will indicate that everybody needs to decide if this is gonna be a post or not by dropping an emoji of Larry Bloom. Also, our office is 100% virtual, and there were parts of the article that definitely didn’t apply to us ’cause we’re not Slacking while in the same physical space as each other. For us, it provides something we never had before. For these other companies, it seems to be replacing something they already had. So it’s a different way of looking at it.
+ Also, check out YouTube Rarely Promotes Black YouTube Stars. I don’t understand or visit YouTube very often or understand how a person becomes a YouTube star, but this feels true and important.
+ Closing the TV-Guest Gender Gap: “A host reflects on the many challenges of trying to make half of his interview subjects women.”
This Business of Business
+ Sam Altman Thinks Startup Burn Rates Are Getting Frightening: I cannot even figure out what all these startups even need that much money at once for! I mean we are talking ridiculous sums of money.
+ America’s CEOs Make Too Much Money: I COULD NOT POSSIBLY AGREE MORE. Salary caps for CEOs could change the game for pretty much everybody. LITERALLY EVERY HUNMAN IN THIS COUNTRY.
This Business of Journalism
+ My Love Affair With The New York Observer, by George Gurley for The New York Observer – To be real my #1 feeling about this guy was “he sounds like a douche” and “is this what it’s like to be a man, you just go out there and get what you deserve.”
+ Gawker interviews Ben Smith and Jonah Peretti about “BuzzFeed’s ongoing review of deleted content.” Honestly I found this interview really hard to follow, like nobody completed a sentence at any point. It’s such a luxury to be able to afford to separate church and state, though, I can tell you that. Also it looks like Gawker wants to do a Buzzfeed exposè.
Businesswoman’s Special: Advice On How To Work Better
+ An Easy Hack to Drive Creativity: This sounds like a good idea.
+ My Morning Routine: These people meditate more than you! No, but I love reading about people’s work routines and work lives, especially people who structure their own time.
+ Why You Should Keep Things Weird At Work: I agree with every fiber of my being.
Articles I Wish Someone Would Pitch To Autostraddle:
+ It Happened To Me: I Weaned Myself Off Psychiatric Medications In Order To Get Pregnant
+ Every LGBTQ storyline from the entirety of the Law & Order franchise, ranked
+ I think somebody wants us to write about the Women’s World Cup
+ Still looking for people in the UK to write about UK things !
+ Personal stories about how people have gone through a million paths/jobs/hard times and then found their place