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Off the Media

Off the Media

The New Media Dilemma: Eschewing Crap for Quality, Despite the Incentives

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When I say that Vox and FiveThirtyEight have quickly gone from promising to clickbait hackery, they almost make it too easy. I mean, “This is what Pangaea would look like with modern borders”? C’mon. Even Gawker was aghast.

But that’s my point, it is so easy to criticize. What’s harder is the dilemma that every web publisher today is facing, including myself and the leadership at Betabeat.

This stuff gets traffic. Are we just not supposed to publish it? Read More

Off the Media

Even Data Journalists Like Klein and Silver Aren’t Above Hack Tactics

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We live in a new world of “method journalism.”

In it, bright minds like Nate Silver and Ezra Klein have staked out new media territory, defined by the style in which their writers produce content. It’s supposed to be a new golden age for content, driven by hard data in Silver’s case, and simplified explanation in Klein’s.

Except of course, they’re not. It’s just the same pageview journalism dressed up with better rhetoric. The same end, just different means. Read More

Off the Media

Chasing Ghosts: ‘Attention Minutes’ Are Voodoo, CPM is Still What Counts

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Though we often criticize sites like Huffington Post and Buzzfeed for their do-anything-for-clicks mentality, deep down we know it’s not really their fault. It’s the advertisers who also make this trade lucrative. The way publishers see it, they are just fulfilling a need.

I’ve been there myself. I know that pageviews are a terrible metric for measuring “quality”—I’ve compared it to the military measuring success by bodycount. But what else is there? Read More

Off the Media

For Giants Like the New York Times, Problems Are Hidden in Plain Sight

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It’s a pleasant surprise to see Jonah Peretti make the most salient criticism of the New York Times’ recently controversial (and leaked) innovation report. Why is the Times being so hard on its tech and product teams while ignoring the real elephant in the room?

They spend an estimated $644 million combined on delivery and printing costs, plus untold hundreds of millions to be based in the heart of Manhattan. Aren’t these the real, daily business concerns that the newspaper should be looking at more closely?  Read More

Off the Media

Is Google’s Product Strategy Dumb, Brave or Both?

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There’s no question we live in one of the harshest media environments in history. Not that it’s necessarily always critical but rather, if you’re someone doing something in the public eye, you face a million media outlets all shouting to be louder than the others, publishing in real time, with little editing, little fact checking, and complete subjectivity.

In other words, it’s the mob. Read More

Off the Media

Skimming Off The Top: Social Giving Sites Take a Huge Cut Of The Check

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Last week, a friend from elementary school’s house burned down. She lost everything. Since they were renters, none of the stuff in the house was insured. Worse yet, it was the cherry on top of an already heartbreaking week in which her little dog had been killed by another dog.

Due to the marvel of social media and social tools, another friend immediately set up a campaign with the site Give Forward to raise $12,000 for a “Start From Scratch Fund” on my friend’s behalf. Almost immediately, the first $10,000 was raised. Read More

Off the Media

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

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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