Technorati’s top ten websites 5.7.12.
The Washington Post lost $22 million in its last quarter, are aggressively buying out senior, rain-making, prize-winning reporters, and apparently turning the newsroom into a click-thru sweatshop, complete with a screen recording story hits in real time.
The bigfeet reporters are worried.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with getting rid of expensive old reporters and replacing them with young ones.
I do think there is a difference between the clickhound journalism of Gawker or The Mail Online, however, and reporters.
News is curated for the public good. You need to keep your eyes on the prize. I think the public good is high, if not universal, voter turnout, and the journalism version of Friday Night Lights. Grassroots issues and community.
The Washington Post needs to figure out what that prize is, and cover the two local industries they have — U.S. politics and Chocolate City — with what I’m thinking of as Freakonomics Politico, a journalism paradigm for the 21st century. I think the old avatar of Freako Politico is Mike Davis, the Marxist. His City of Quartz is probably the very best Holy Shit Story of his generation, as Steven Levitt (I am still checking him out) may be of his generation.
Everybody knows from writing their own blogs what gets the most clix. Use the word porn in your headline and your clix will increase 20 fold.
I once posted a photograph to Flickr of the weird python-like process of creating and stuffing a cloth doll. I called it Getting Stuffed. It got nearly a thousand hits in two hours until I changed the headline. In 10 years of blogging privately, this Getting Stuffed photograph was my greatest hit in what we shall call, for journalism curriculum purposes, the Scandanavian Christmas Elf Tomte Syndrome:
So the perfect capitalist tool of a newspaper, as WaPo president and general manager Steve Hills seems to have told the senior reporters, to maximize the website, would be 10 rainmakers, 1,000 clix drones, and the words “Getting Stuffed” in every headline. Today’s lede stories in the NYT:
At Cusp of Major Power, Bo Xilai Gets Stuffed by Own Hard Tactics
A Scramble as Biden Gets Stuffed on Same Sex Marriage
Stock Trading Is Still Getting Stuffed After ’08
Hollande Calling for ‘Get Stuffed’ Amid Cuts in Europe
Even more trenchantly, for the clix hix, this minute’s top four most e-mailed stories from the NYT:
For the Hard of Hearing, Clarity Out of the Getting Stuffed
When Illness Makes a Spouse Get Stuffed
Those Getting Stuffed Europeans
Black Women and Getting Stuffed
Stephen P. Hills, ad guy, Harvard B School, former San Mateo, CA sports reporter. President and general manager of The Washington Post.
Good luck with that. Other newspapers are making it online, as the Technorati top ten screen cap shows. Why can’t the Post?
One, no one in the national and international audience a website is going for is interested in the politics they cover or the way they cover it. Stop being provincial. Let Politico do that for the local wonk readership; they like it, they’re good at it, let the tiny niche wonk market go.
Two, The Root D.C. is not a substitute for covering The Post’s other great franchise, Chocolate City. Last I checked, the demographics for black people in the D.C. metro area were that they were the best-educated, richest per capita black people in the U.S. and probably in the world. The Post’s new Root D.C. website is attempting real time coverage of the grassroots issues for people of color the world over inherent in the local coverage of Chocolate City. There never was a story like the D.C. riots, which the late Bob Maynard, the founder of the Maynard Institute, covered for The Washington Post wearing his clogs. There never was a story like Marion Barry or the suburbanization into redneck Prince George’s County of D.C.’s upwardly mobile Talented Tenth. I’d simply like to point out to you that Ron We’re-an-empire-now Suskind, one of the great Freako Politico reporters, won his Pulitzer prize in The Wall Street Journal, telling the story of one black kid trying to get though the D.C. schools and into the Ivy League. And The Wire, recently voted the best TV show of the last 25 years by New York magazine, was set in inner city Baltimore and written by a Baltimore reporter.
Eyes on the prize, Hills. You’re not from around here, are you? Get George Pelecanos to give you some story ideas.