Off the Media

I Was Plagiarized By Arbitrage Magazine, But I’m The One Who Feels Terrible About It


A few weeks ago, my work was shamelessly plagiarized by a staff writer at the Toronto-based Arbitrage Magazine.

I know this not because I am an Arbitrage reader, but because the writer tweeted the article to me.

But honestly I feel terrible that it happened. I’m not angry at the writer (to the point that I have decided not to include his name here to spare him a bad Google-Scarlet-Letter forever). Though he clearly made mistakes, it was really his magazine and its negligent and cowardly leadership that failed us both. Read More

Off the Media

Sourceless: Online Reporting Becomes a Race to the Bottom


Online journalism has always had a sourcing problem. From using unverified “anonymous tips” to repeating whatever rumor or speculation people are chattering about, the general ethic is “we’ll publish just about anything.”

But I think it’s fair to say that when blogs start using anonymous secret sharing apps like Secret and Whisper as sources for news stories, we’ve hit a new low. Read More

Off the Media

What to Measure? The Question Journalism Has to Answer

A few months ago I wrote an article for a website where the standard agreement for writers is a bonus incentive on social shares for the article. This was both usual, and unusual for a lot of reasons.

First, most websites don’t pay writers anything. A good portion of writing online is done for exposure (which a lot of people laugh at but content marketing can be hugely lucrative and I encourage my clients to do it). So that was slightly unusual. What was more standard was the fact that for a site that did pay, the payment was partially contingent on page views (there was a bonus for how many social shares the article got). Read More

You Better Work

Phoning It In: 3 Years of Lessons From Running A Remote Business

(Photo: Flickr)

I’ve never paid for my own landline phone number. I brought a telephone with me to college but never ended up plugging it in–it wasn’t necessary.

My generation was on the tail end of landlines and by extension, at the beginning of the era of remote businesses. When I started my own company, it never even occurred to me that I would get an office. Why would I? It’s just an unnecessary expense.

In a little over three years I have lived in Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York and Austin. In that time, I’ve had employees who worked out of Florida, Colorado, California, Alabama, Georgia and worked with clients in more countries than I can remember. In fact, I often find out where they’re based at the end of the year when its time to do taxes. Read More

Off the Media

Fake Traffic Means Real Paydays

At this point, the average reader understands the business model of blogging and online journalism pretty clearly: Get traffic, sell ads.

The more traffic a site gets, the more money it makes. And sites need to get lots of traffic—lots more traffic than traditional media used to get—to pay for the costs of producing content. Read More

Off the Media

Snark and Smarm — the Metier of an Empty Generation

It doesn’t shock me that after a slow and growing backlash against snark and vitriol online, some of its worst purveyors would try to move the target.

Apparently, smarm is now the problem.

Many have already responded to this–from the New Yorker to the New York Times to Esquire — so I don’t want to waste anyone’s time with more insider-y, self-indulgent media analysis. And it doesn’t matter whether you call it “snark or Smarm, in the end, it’s all the same bullshit. Read More