Losing Readers’ Voices

So much this:

Five years ago The Times could have bought the best local blogs in New
York for a song— instead, they decided they could do it better
in-house, and completely surrendered the 20-40 year old demographic to
sites like ours.

I talked about this with people in meatspace a few months back, the idea that most newspapers start blogs and then staff them, whereas most blogs start with the staff, ie, a person who has something to say about which he or she feels passionately, and then the content follows. The result in the former case is content that feels labored and mannered and inorganic, not to mention desperate. You getthis sort of thing. Nothing’s screaming READ ME RIGHT NOW. Nothing’s screaming, period. And the dearth of comments proves the point. Why respond? There’s nothing to respond to.

Whereas with the latter, you have a base of knowledge to begin with and a passion for the subject, and newspapers should have picked those up without all the pointless snobbery we endured for six years about the unwashed Internet masses and how without knowing AP Style you weren’t shit (as if AP Style is genetic, and not, say, something everybody has to learn once). Local blogs (and smaller local papers) should have been the farm teams for bigger ones, feeding upward in terms of information and personnel.

Instead, big newspapers looked down on the little guys, and bitched about the Internet, and everybody on the Internet who once saw newspapers as an honorable line of work said, “Okay, FINE then, Charleston Chew, we ain’t wasting our time at parties bullshitting with you vapid preppies, we’ll go get our own readers and build our own ad networks and have our own conversations and you can continue writing stories about taxes and sticking bananas up your bungholes.” Then the advertising crash happened and everybody figured out David Brooks and George Will were boring.

And plenty of people began to take notice and the tide reversed, and now they’re snatching up anybody they can find, only it’s too late because those lowly bloggers have learned some self-respect and won’t sign on to be treated like shit just to get a Herald or a Tribune or a Times on their resumé, and that’s of course a sign of the apocalypse, people trying to make it on their own. So we convene an academic panel to figure out what the fuck went wrong, when what really went wrong is what always goes wrong. Nobody listened.


7 thoughts on “Losing Readers’ Voices

  1. And then there are bloggers like me who get ripped off by other bigger bloggers, and not only don’t make money off of it, we barely get an apology. (I’m lookin’ atyou, MetroJacksonville!)
    I repeat what the great sage and eminent word-junkie Driftglass says: Pay the damn writer. ‘S amazing what you can get out of a writer when she has enough to eat and heat in the winter and the rent’s safely covered.
    Completely OT but I’m telling everyone:KITTEH! Too. Also.

  2. i replaced my childhood black longhaired male with nother one and cosmo was SOOO cool + different, i never compared him to whiskers. i STILL want a long haired black cat, but short tabby basil is so different. i will be happy if my next pair don’t bite so much.

  3. Nice piece, Athenae.
    It’s the first piece I’ve read on the Decline And Fall of Big Print Media that dovetails with my own experience as aconsumer of news.
    I’m not one of the 20-40 demographic; I’m pushing 60. But I’m also one of the people who got off the Bus To Nowhere that mass media news somehow turned into about two decades ago. At least.
    Blogs are written by people whocare about what they write about. That’s why I read them.
    While it’s been more than 15 years since I’ve even bothered to subscribe to cable TV service.

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