The Quibi experience has been decidedly less than fresh thanks to numerous hurdles built into the service: first and foremost, the mobile-only limitation, which precluded viewing on a bigger screen and also the ability to text, scroll, or multi-task while watching the content pitched to our fractured attention spans. Quibi’s mobile-only imposition especially hampered the service as many Americans quarantined at home with the option of larger screens and ever-growing streaming services – Netflix and Hulu, obviously, as well as Disney+, Apple TV+ and the new HBO Max – to fill them.
Quibi’s business model assumed an endless appetite for entertainment until we die, but its mandates, short-form, mobile-only, paid subscription, subsumed the all-important choice from consumers used to frenetic, constantly refreshing and expanding amusement on demand and on phones with YouTube and TikTok, for free. “We’re in a world where the viewer expects to have control over the what, the when, the where, the how they’re going to watch content, and Quibi has taken a lot of that away from them,” said Goodman.
I said most of this on Twitter last night, but: Jesus tits, it’s a TEXTBOOK example of doing everything but saving journalism to save journalism. Quibi had all kinds of legit news content with actual journalists, some of whom seemed to better understand what they were about than others, and it never seemed like anything more than a 2010s update of a 1990s “what if the news had an MTV soundtrack, that’ll pull in the youngs” strategy. What a waste. What a goddamn load.
ONE POINT SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS. I just cannot.
This is the kind of shit that makes me ragey when it comes to all our thousands of “future of journalism” panels and blue-ribbon commissions and studies and digital paradigms. You could have used all this money to buy out and run independently 1,000 community papers.
If you had put HALF, even, of this cash into independent student media you’d have raised a GENERATION of journalists. You would change the fucking WORLD. But no, blow it on some consultant’s wet dream that you named like a drink with squid ink in it.
Do you know how many stories it would cost, MAYBE, 10K to break? Do you know how many communities need papers that could be run soup to nuts for $500K a year TOPS? And look at these fucking clowns. Suck my dick.
I get that the long game isn’t FUN. I get that lots of this stuff isn’t as sexy as celebrity anchors delivering “quick bites.” I get that “let’s do the same boring shit the news has always done only this time let’s act like it matters because the past four years have proven pretty definitively that it does” won’t get you into a lot of VC pitch meetings.
But one of the reasons nonprofit journalism fundraising sucks so fucking much is that all the goddamn money gets hoovered up by idiot ideas like these and if you ask for any to, like, cover the news, they look at you like you’re an alien.
Hello, I would like ONE POINT SEVEN FIVE BILLION DOLLARS to pay reporters you’ve never heard of to cover stories you’ll never know about. All that will happen if you give me that money is that you won’t wind up embarrassed by shutting down your shitsack project after 10 minutes. My e-mail’s right up there. You can reach out anytime.
Like it’ll just make people’s lives better and maybe save democracy, so I can see how it won’t tug your tool just right. What if I come up with a logo that’s also on fire and a name like a brand of kitchen implement? Quibi. If you have to spend most of your time explaining what your name means, you probably don’t have a good name, TRONC.
I would ALMOST be ok with this kind of waste (bitches gotta eat) if it didn’t exist alongside endless thinkpieces about how no one values journalism. There is a DIRECT correlation between these high-visibility failures and the reluctance of anyone to invest in real efforts.
People see shit like this implode and think well, obviously nothing can work ever, because they don’t read below the toplines and all they see is a well-funded effort with a bunch of high-profile backers fall on its fucking keys.
So how can you dumb bunnies in the sticks make anything work if these brain geniuses can’t? Well, for starters, and to return to the start of this rant, we generally name our papers things like “news of your town” and not “random group of letters that who knows what it could be.”
Anyway, it’s Giving Tuesday, support actual nonprofit shops that give their money to the journalists and the journalism, not to somebody’s brother-in-law to come up with fucking Quibi. UGH. You have, at a minimum, a paper in your town that’s likely starved for subscriptions but if it’s some cookie-cutter rag owned by a hedge fund, you can always use your spare twenties to light campfires.
At least then you’d be warm and have something to roast marshmallows over.