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Off the Media

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

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

Off the Media

A History of Media Manipulation: This Holiday Book List Will Protect You from Lying Liars

Last week we found out the media had again fallen for a complete hoax when it was revealed that a now-famous waitress who had been the victim of a homophobic no-tip-because-of-your-lifestyle attack in New Jersey had in fact made the whole thing up.

The original story had made the front pages of CNN, ABC, Fox News and countless others. On the Huffington Post, the story received close to 8,000 comments and 16,000 Facebook shares (with follow-ups receiving more). One Gawker story alone did something like 200,000 pageviews. Read More

Off the Media

The New Digital Divide: Privilege, Misinformation and Outright B.S. in Modern Media

Tech folks have long beat the same drum. Yes, the internet is often embarrassingly, comically and dangerously wrong, they say, but if you know how to separate the good from the bad, it all works out. There may be individual weak spots, from Wikipedia pages to Twitter rumors to (incorrect) breaking news on Reddit, but as a whole (the thinking goes), it’s a strong system.

And to a certain degree, they’re right. If you know how to work it, online media is awesome. By nature of reading a column about media, you’re probably one of those people. You are proficient in skepticism, cross-checking stories against each other, and gravitating toward the signal within the noise.

What I think we forget–or worse, never even realized—is the extreme privilege often inherent in “digital literacy.” Read More

Off the Media

How to Respond (And Not Respond) to Bad PR

Being criticized in the media is a good problem to have–most of the time. It means you’re doing something that is at least interesting or cool or crazy enough to be noticed. It might not always feel good, but it’s usually better than the alternative of obscurity.

Unfortunately, most people have no idea how to handle this when it happens.

As someone who has represented many controversial clients, been the subject of media scrutiny myself and more recently, written my own criticism, I thought we could talk about some simple lessons of what to do, and more importantly, what not do. Read More

Off the Media

Dishing Out Insulin: How Feel-Good Viral Machines like Upworthy and BuzzFeed Filter Reality

In 2011, Eli Pariser’s excellent book The Filter Bubble complained that the increasingly personalized web was giving people facts that confirmed their pre-existing viewpoints while hiding the information that didn’t. (His partial responsibility for creating this phenomenon with Moveon.org went mostly unsaid, but whatever, it was a good book).

The problem is that Mr. Pariser moved on to create another filter bubble. This time not a political or ideological filter, but a filter on reality itself. Read More