May 23, 2014

"News publishers regard Facebook much the same way ancient peoples perceived their gods: Powerful but mysterious..."

"... it can send monsoons that make the crops grow or a parching drought that brings famine, and it never has to explain why."
Just as the ancients looked to animal bones and cloud shapes for clues to the gods’ intentions, news executives and the journalists who work for them parse every utterance out of Menlo Park for insight into the company’s thinking.

So when a high-ranking product manager takes to his Facebook page to condemn the efforts of the most successful digital publishers, you better believe they’re going to pay attention.
That's Jeff Bercovici at Forbes, talking about some rant put up by a Facebook guy named Mike Hudack. Bercovici quotes a lot of the rant, including this, about Ezra Klein and Vox:
Personally I hoped that we would find a new home for serious journalism in a format that felt Internet-native and natural to people who grew up interacting with screens instead of just watching them from couches with bags of popcorn and a beer to keep their hands busy.

And instead they write stupid stories about how you should wash your jeans instead of freezing them.
And Ezra Klein himself deigned to drop a comment chez Hudack:
It’s funny: last night, we were having a conversation around the mix of content on Vox. And we were saying that if you just looked at what worked well on FB it was a lot lighter than if you looked at what was on the site. We actually try pretty hard not to be swallowed up by those incentives. But it’s a bit baffling to read a post by Facebook’s product director that just ignores the fact that those incentives exist.
What?! Facebook doesn't purport to be a news site transforming the news. Why should Hudack's critique of news media need to include an acknowledgment of such a mundane, banal reality? If Klein actually finds it "baffling" that Hudack didn't cut him some slack for plying readers with candy, he's utterly stupid. I don't think he is stupid. He's just not capable of delivering the website he promises and lacks any good excuses.


Eric the Fruit Bat said...

For me, the take-away is that I've been doing right by my jeans all along and I didn't even know it!

The Crack Emcee said...

"They write stupid stories about how you should wash your jeans instead of freezing them."


Coates writes about reparations for blacks and creates a firestorm.

mccullough said...

This rant was pretty funny. But it's what people have been complaining about since media started. That it appeals to fluff over the serious. But people like the celebrity stuff and the fluff. If people didn't love fluff, there would be no Facebook.

I find his complaint that reporters just write what sources tell them an age old complaint as well. That he chose Dick Cheney and Judith Miller as his example is laughable since that's over a decade old. There are more famous examples and there are more recent examples.

SteveR said...

Poor Ezra, great focus dude.

Fen said...

People on facebook are there to unwind and catchup with friends. Only the political evangelists care about news stories.

There is a meme:

"My thesis on world peace"


"Like OMG! I found these shoes half off!"


Drago said...

Crack: "Coates writes about reparations for blacks and creates a firestorm."

More like a small dust vortex.

Because, gee, it's so unusual to write about reparations.

It's almost as rare as a feminist writing about vaginas.

I mean, talk about rare!

Anonymous said...

Even if Vox ends up being to media what Obamacare is to law, I'm guessing Klein won't readjust too much.

Which is a fine argument for why markets end up aiming self-interest towards actually serving other people something they want.

Which, when you think about it, is more moral than activating your way into power and forcing others to live as you think they should, because you already know a lot of what they want, or should want, because you're already in possession of the knowledge and right ideas to run health-care, huge sectors of the economy, the government, markets and even the world successfully.

Ann Althouse said...

Please avoid extra spaces in comments.

Drago said...

Ann Althouse said...
Please avoid extra spaces in comments

Blogs abhor a vacuum.

Darrell said...

Yeah. That's EXACTLY what we think of Facebook.

John Lawton said...

Blogs vacuum a bore

Jim said...

And now you know why Jeff Bezos, a very smart businessman, told Ezra Klein to go take a flying leap when he demanded $10 million in funding.