March 16, 2014

"Watched several young 'writers' (aggregators) cry as they stared at barely nudging view/share counts."

"Two I heard calling their parents."

Life in new media, as tweeted by the pseudonymous Media Man, who might be reporting from behind the scenes and might be a comic writer guessing about what it's like. What difference does it make anyway?

Writing and eyeing the statistics about your readership — how awful is it? Some writers are writing only for themselves. These are the diarists who don't even dream that some day their words will be published. In new media, you see the readership stats immediately, and you can avoid ever looking and think that you're being truer, more genuine than those other people who want to know. You can look a little and enjoy the side game. Oh! I have some readers!

It's a long continuum, and at one extreme, you have the websites that are entirely premised on getting traffic and that hire young people and pressure them constantly to write for traffic. These young people collect their pay and know the nature of their work. It's a grueling sell-out job for some and maybe an exhilarating sport for others. Should we cry for the writers who take a job they can't hack? Or do we say why don't you wait tables or drive a cab while you write your truly genuine scribblings if you think they matter (even if they only matter to you)?

The real question is why anyone reads anything that's produced in the sick climate of new media? I'd like to think the answer is: Because there is this one blogger, who has always only said what she really thinks, and let the traffic fall where it may....

17 comments:

The Crack Emcee said...

Amen.

Which I only write to drive up your numbers - and drive traffic to my site, too, I hear.

That's how it works - they're sure of it,...

chrisnavin.com said...

Well, Althouse, I imagine you went along to get along more than once in law school, the firm, and in Madison.

Life's full of trade-offs, though I quite appreciate this place.

Writing has never made much money, and it's always been full of trade-offs, too.

madAsHell said...

If you blog, but no one is there to comment, then did it make a sound.

Lyle said...

Amen.

EDH said...

@TheAtlantic is basically a front for a lifestyle/advertising company, as if WiedenKennedy started news site. All their content is sponsored.

That was the theme of the "Free Snacks" episode of Girls this season, where Hannah gets a good paying job and succeeds as an "ad-side writer" for GQ, where product placement rules the content.

Emphatically not a "staff writer" at GQ, where hierarchy also rules, Hannah insists to her long-compromised peers, "I'm like – no offense – a writer-writer, not a corporate advertising, working-for-the-man kind of writer", as they all grimly see past their denial the inevitable: they are all well on their way to comfortably abandoning their dreams.

And, in reality, what do traffic-driven sites, even GQ do? They write traffic-driving content about the episode, like:

A Girl on Girls, Season 3, Episode 6: Reports of GQ's Snack Room Have Been Greatly Exaggerated, replete with a photo of the real GQ snack room.

betamax3000 said...

I do not know why I write online. I can come up with after-the-fact reasons and rationalizations, but I do not why I respond to the sparks with words. Different voices in my head, different fireworks; some fizzle.

I do know that a lot of those sparks come from Althouse's posts; often, after that point, I feel that I am more channeling than writing, letting the voices have their say. I cannot fully recollect how I came to such a bond with a Law Professor's site, only that I appreciate the thoughts she provokes, and the commenters that follow.

It is a bit strange, writing without response (I've had some people make a few receptive comments that I very much appreciate, and know that for others I am surely a fly-over) -- the vacuum has a disorienting quality about it. This disorienting quality affects some voices more than others; not every match in the matchbook lights a cigarette.

For what it's worth, I have archived the twenty-plus "Comedy Stage Open Mic Night Comic" responses on my site, along with other comments like the ' Allen-Mia Farrow phone-call' (in Althouse blog-roll); I have included the post link with each, thinking some readers might read the comment first, then proceed to the original post and try to connect the dots (I am sure Althouse will be on fire with all the referrals). It is rather meta now, with my site becoming a repository for comments made at another specific site; I might need to break it up with more Vague Poetry. Again: some fizzle. Piff.

rehajm said...

I'm here for the snark.

Donald Douglas said...

"Because there is this one blogger, who has always only said what she really thinks, and let the traffic fall where it may...."

Well, does letting the traffic "fall where it may" really ring true when Instapundit's been throwing you millions of hits over the years? That's blog privilege talking, not that I care much. (And I do care, just not that much. In other words, I let the traffic fall where it may.)

Donald Douglas said...

Oh, and speaking of Instapundit, lol!

The Crack Emcee said...

madAsHell said...
If you blog, but no one is there to comment, then did it make a sound.

I turned off mine - too many robots and too much racism - and my numbers are growing, so,...

madAsHell said...

How intriguing!
Our hostess has become Betamax's Muse.
Twisted plots, and demented characters ensue.

FedkaTheConvict said...

Because there is this one blogger, who has always only said what she really thinks, and let the traffic fall where it may....

Until that period last year when she shut down her comment section and her ranking fell in the Law Prof Blog Traffic Rankings. Then she suddenly cried "Uncle" and went back to unmoderated comments.

Jane the Actuary said...

So --

There's a significant difference between writing for sites where the goal is to generate clicks (the sort that I used to get lured into until I learned that the top hits in an internet search don't necessarily yield useful information) and writing to get readers, which is not really much different than what authors have always done.

I think the notion of a "purist" writing solely for the joy of writing, is a bit silly.

I blog, and have various high-minded reasons for it, but it seems rather fruitless and waste of time without readers, even if those readers are a very tiny fraction of Althouse's, and even if there's no tangible benefit to readership (no ads, or amazon link, or connection to the Big Name bloggers) but just the thought that at sometime in the future I might figure out how to Do Something with the blog.

Iapetus said...

"Writing and eyeing the statistics about your readership — how awful is it?"

I dunno, why not ask those academics who write tedious articles for law reviews and other professional journals and then sit around waiting anxiously to see how many citations their article gets.

cokaygne said...

Not to worry, I will always read you and mostly agree with you.

somewhy said...

Should we cry for the writers who take a job they can't hack?

Or for those who can, and become Journolists?

Dale Light said...

A friend of mine, who had a long and successful career in government service, wrote porn to support himself as a young man just out of school. He said it was the worst kind of drudgery -- sweatshop level tedium.