Thursday, December 17, 2009

Snarky Aughties defined by Gawker?

The lowest common denominator is how to dominate the media, no? From Mediaite, (not to be confused with meditate...) learn why this past decade will be known as the Gawker Years.
A remarkable 400,000,000 page views in November left editors gobsmacked...but also keep in mind the following

* The snarky, bomb-throwing editorial voice on which Gawker prides itself could be its biggest liability. If the success of hackneyed puppet comedian Jeff Dunham has taught us anything, it’s that a New York/LA sensibility ≠ the pulse of America. People who read blogs right now aren’t the pulse of America either, but that’s changing. A more upbeat sensibility like OnSugar’s, which the New York Times described as “short, light and sarcasm-free, with big photos and headlines,” could carry the day.

That said, Gawker broadened its focus and brightened its hues a few years ago to anticipate this; the snark factor has significantly dropped since the days of editors Jesse Oxfeld and Jessica Coen. The Nick Denton myth is occasionally overblown, but he does have a knack for foreseeing the big trends.

* Older powers, which still have the most resources at their disposal, can reemerge. In Hearst’s early days, the New York Times was seen as a dusty old has-been, with a circulation of only 25,000; look at what happened. Given its bulk and age, the Times has done a remarkable job of evolving with the web. Most recently, it has built up a commanding presence in social media, thanks, in part, to digital partnership and social media whiz Soraya Darabi, who is soon to depart the paper for And the upward trending of its blogs — the more than seventy of which the Times is thankfully pruning this year — is further proof of the Times‘ willingness to experiment and innovate.

Ironically, Gawker has been moving in the opposite direction by hiring experienced reporters. Actual reporting, done in an opinionated but informed voice, may be the key to the successful blogging — or is it web publishing? — of the next decade.

* Cheeky upstarts can materialize, seemingly from nowhere, and shake everything up in short order with new models previously undreamt. Old habits may die hard, but free habits — like which online publications you read — die easier and are reborn easier. Recall that Gawker was founded only in 2002.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Stop the press. Literally.

Some 15,000 journalists have lost their jobs in 2009 so far, according to media industry watcher News Cycle, recycled in the Huffington Post where most of the deluded bloggers work for free exposure, accelerating the demise of newspapers.)

News Cycle blog calculates that, so far this year, "15,093 people have received their pink slips or have [opted] into a buyout package in the newspaper industry."

And December has a couple more weeks to run. The blog notes that more layoffs are expected at the Los Angeles Times this month, and New York Times layoffs loom as too few employees accepted voluntary buyout offers.

News Cycle breaks down the job losses by month:

November -- 293 people.
October -- 375 people.
September -- 347 people.
August -- 425 people.
July -- 2,505 people.
June -- 318 people.
May -- 1,084 people.
April -- 1,350 people.
March -- 3,943 people.
February -- 1,492 people.
January -- 2,256 people.

HuffPo adds that Ground Report's Rachel Sterne is able to find a silver lining in these numbers: since July, she notes, layoffs have slowed.

"Based on the News Cycle figures," Sterne writes, "the end of the first and second quarters in 2009 saw the most bloodshed. From August onward, numbers dropped significantly, and the rate of layoffs stayed flat."

And then there's next year.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Boudreaux to Go

Another outstanding journalist is leaving the Los Angeles Times, which continues to whittle coverage down so much that it is becoming unrecognizable. Richard Boudreaux, the energetic foreign correspondent who reported from more than 50 countries, winds down his two-decade career at the LA Times this month. His take on the news will be sorely missed in LA. The Louisiana-born newshound was admired by colleagues the worl round.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Big Fat Lie reported around the Globe

That horrendous tale about a Peruvian gang which murdered people for their fat was widely reported last month. A grisly photograph of "evidence" - four jars of human dripping from corpses plus a detached head - was circulated in most mainstream media outlets. Scientists were dubious about the existence of a black market for human lard, but still these arrest reports made the rounds, thanks to the Associated Press.

A closer look shows that story proved to be blatantly untrue, or as the Beeb put it, a "big fat lie." The top cop who circulated the story was sacked after hundreds of journalists were duped by his mix of horror and legend. Here's how.