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.”
off the media
I own a goat. Her name is Bucket.
Less than a year ago, I had an apartment in Manhattan, convinced I was ready to live the dream. I was a published author. I had high profile PR and marketing clients. I wasn’t sure exactly which dream I was living but I was pretty sure New York City was the place you came to celebrate it. Read More
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
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
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
Smart marketers look for opportunities that other marketers have missed. They try to take advantage of taboos or assumptions that may have hamstrung their competitors. When done right, this impulse can create something powerful or unexpected and usually yield a massive ROI.
We’ve seen it a bunch of times. Someone will use social media in some new way (Old Spice). Someone will take advantage of late night television ads in some new way (Snuggie). Someone will take advantage of celebrities or quirky news stories. (Remember GoldenPalace.com?) Read More
We have a certain image of what great marketers should look like. David Ogilvy with his pipe. Don Draper with his whiskey. Alex Bogusky on the cover of Fast Company.
Of course, each of these embodied their own era in their own way. But look at the last crop of billion dollar brands, which in the last half decade rose from nothing to ubiquity: Facebook. Zappos. Airbnb. Square. Uber. Evernote. Spotify. Twitter. Dropbox.
A few years ago, I got an unusual request from Google. The search giant was working on an experimental program that encouraged retailers to feature links to products from other retailers on their websites. I forget the exact economics of the deal, whether Google treated it as an advertising unit or more an affiliate program — all I remember was my reaction.
It seemed insane to send customers away from your website and toward the websites of competitors. After spending countless dollars and energies pulling users onto your page, why would you open up an exit door? Even if the ad unit was lucrative, it still seemed like advertising suicide–or at least, like stupidly shooting yourself in the foot.
When people hear the traffic figures for big blogs and blog networks, they assume the sites must be swimming in money. How could they not be? With hundreds of millions, if not billions, of impressions annually, one would think that revenue would automatically follow.
But it doesn’t.
At the time of its acquisition in February Read More
The Subscription Cycle: Why Andrew Sullivan’s Switching to the Pay Model and Everyone Else Should Too
As a business, the journalism industry is bipolar. For basically all of its history, it’s been bouncing between two opposing revenue models.
Though many were shocked at the news last week that uber-blogger Andrew Sullivan would be leaving The Daily Beast, opting out of the endless chase for pageviews and Read More