Then we’ll punch a hole in the sky.
What’s the value in being first if what you’re reporting isn’t serving your audience’s taste? Perhaps there isn’t any. You may not know his name, but Chris Stirewalt was the Fox News Channel politics editor who called Arizona for Biden on election night — well before other news networks, a decision that enraged a certain group of viewers hoping for a different result. He was fired in January; last week, he reflected on the tumultuous experience of the past few months, in the Los Angeles Times. Here’s what he’s saying: “Being first with the account or images of major events is a thing of scant value now. What one outlet has, every outlet will have, usually within seconds. Indeed, being first can prove to be a commercial disadvantage. … Whatever the platform, the competitive advantage belongs to those who can best habituate consumers, which in the stunted, data-obsessed thinking of our time, means avoiding at almost any cost impinging on the reality so painstakingly built around them. As outlets have increasingly prioritized habituation over information, consumers have unsurprisingly become ever more sensitive to any interruption of their daily diet. The rebellion on the populist right against the results of the 2020 election was partly a cynical, knowing effort by political operators and their hype men in the media to steal an election or at least get rich trying. But it was also the tragic consequence of the informational malnourishment so badly afflicting the nation.”
. . . Jobs, jobs, jobs! “The departure of a top editor has historically been a tumultuous time in newsrooms, especially for those devoted to daily journalism. In past generations, it could involve a showdown between a paper’s most ambitious talents, with room for only one to ascend, followed by a months-long reshuffling down through the middle ranks. Yet the generational turnover happening now comes as the obvious pool for top managerial talent has shifted — with many of these papers said to be chasing the same candidates — at a time these once-coveted jobs have become more challenging than ever.” The Washington Post: At a critical juncture for the media, leadership vacancies are coming to America’s top newsrooms — at WaPo, LATimes, NYT, Reuters, Wired, Vox, HuffPost… (have you had enough yet?)
In other journalism
– “The top 1% of podcasts receive 99% of downloads.” While many companies are sinking lots of time and money into the podcasting business, few are actually making any money. (Axios)
– “The Cugat painting is not the only cover The Great Gatsby has ever had. But since Cugat’s cover was revived for the 1979 paperback reissue, it’s become the image that first comes to mind when most people think of Gatsby. And none of the publishers of the new Gatsby editions can use it.” Vox: With The Great Gatsby entering the public domain and primed for several re-releases, how are publishers redoing the cover?