I am Starting a Consulting Firm and it Will Be Called Stop Doing Stupid Shit, You Stupid Assholes

& Partners: 

I can tell you from personal experience over the last several months, having met with countless investors and leaders of media companies and editors and writers and technologists in the media world that there is a desperate belief that The Problem can be solved with the New Thing. And goddammit someone must have it in their pitch deck. A new kind of video app. The best news stories of the day, except all on video. Video, but with subtitles. Only 30 second videos, designed for vertical screens. A personalized Facebook bot that delivers only the video you want. Video on-demand, over-the-top, linear, succulent, meaningful, plentiful, attention-grabbing video!

Or maybe a newsletter of some type. A video newsletter.

Succulent Video is the name of my Prince & The Revolution Tribute Band. Let’s get that out of the way first.

I am down with the idea that nobody is coming to save you, and that journalism is not and NEVER HAS BEEN about the medium. Journalism is about getting the news out any way you can to as many people as you can. If that is SCRAWLING IT ON THE GODDAMN SIDEWALK with pink Hello Kitty chalk, if that is the fastest way or the most efficient way or the only way you have, if that is the best way to tell as much as you can to as many people as you can, then that’s what you do.

My beef with digital paradigm talk is that in many cases heads of major corporations blame “tectonic shifts in technology and audience demands” for laziness and stupidity and short-sighted profit-chasing. I have zero issue with you exploring your internet horizons or whatever the hell you want to call it (you could just call it doing the news, but …). Podcast. Do video. Jerk yourself off about your longform longreads. Make an app if that’s what works for you, if you can do something with it that nobody else is doing or if it will just make you a crapload of money. Go crazy. Three weeks ago I pitched somebody we should tell a story by projecting it piece by piece onto the side of a building each day, no shit. I am not going to judge you for working.

I am going to judge you for screwing over your current customers or your employees or the only thing you are good at in order to do something that ten other papers have tried and sucked at, or from which they gained zero advantage. Why? Because if you have people, who are paying you for a thing, and the money they give you is enough to do your job, why would you ever stop just CASHING THEIR CHECKS AND SAYING THANK YOU? Particularly when you are good at that? Why would you stop making money until you have to?

Why would your strategy be to insult those people, declare publicly that you are abandoning them, cut the people and resources making the product they like which you are good at making, and tell them it is their fault anyway.

Resources are not finite, not with the amount of money companies are throwing around right now: 

Gannett Co., publisher of USA Today, made an $815 million unsolicited bid for Tribune Publishing Co., setting up a potential takeover fight in a quest to gain bigger regional newspapers like the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.

Gannett offered $12.25 in cash per Tribune share, a 63 percent premium to Tribune’s closing price on April 22, according to a statement Monday. The company publicly announced its proposal two weeks after unsuccessfully making a private offer, putting pressure on top Tribune shareholder Michael Ferro to make a deal just three months after he became chairman.

If he leaves the company, he gets some pretty fat stacks. Enough to pay a dozen reporters for a dozen years. So don’t tell me the money’s not there to keep working.

Time and energy are not finite either. You would have to stop doing stupid shit like spending 20 minutes of every 30 minute newscast on traffic and the weather, especially if neither one has killed anybody today. You would have to be very, very organized to do new things and old things at once. It would not be easy money like in the old days. But it would be money, and as long as money is there, why would you stop wanting to get it?


3 thoughts on “I am Starting a Consulting Firm and it Will Be Called Stop Doing Stupid Shit, You Stupid Assholes

  1. The title reminds me of a Calvin and Hobbes strip: Calvin is sitting at an upturned cardboard box marked “A Swift Kick in the Rear, $1.” Hobbes approaches and asks how business is going. “Terrible, and I don’t understand why! Everyone I know needs what I’m selling!”

    My opinion is that Lex’s “very good reason” is this Grail-like object of making more and more money by doing less and less. These people just know that there’s a way to do even less and still get more revenue. It should be enough to just stand on a corner of the internet and look pretty, and people will throw enormous wads of cash at you, right? If they don’t there’s obviously something very, very wrong. With everyone else.

  2. “…a dozen reporters for a dozen years…”

    Isn’t that a “gross of reporters?”

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