It's...kind of a bad article too...



of all the things I expected technology to kill, journalism was not one of them

@rotor Journalism has suffered tremendously, for a variety of reasons. But this is also partially because of publishers overt reliance on advertising to fund their operations.

We've ended up with a situation where major publishers will now create entire articles that are effectively just advertisements, and publishing platforms for the masses have effectively become distribution systems for garbage, much like social media.


it's entirely because of the ad industry breaking, not just partially.

Publishers have _always_ relied on advertising since the idea of mass media happened.


if you could wave a wand and make the ad industry magically work like it did in the 70s then the industry would right itself in a year or two.

the challenge is how to pay for solid investigative journalism over the long term without it being excessively polluted by the people who pay for it.

@deadsuperhero @rotor Such as...

Having a serious article about a murdered Saudi journalist, right next to a clickbait ad about "stubborn belly fat"

@rbe_expert @rotor I was thinking more along the lines of articles that are basically just tailored as copy framed as an op-ed piece, but yeah, I hate those too.

I don't understand how the likes of Outbrain even makes money when all they do is peddle garbage clickbait. It's basically the same thing as those ad-plastered listicle sites that break every point into a separate page to get you to load more ads.

@deadsuperhero @rbe_expert @rotor Hmm. Journalism was reliant on ads befor ethe internet. What changed? Extra competition driving down how much money they could make from ads? :/

@Angle @rbe_expert @rotor I suspect an increasing amount of non-physical resources and non-physical infrastructure probably played further into depending on advertising as a key form of revenue.

Put another way, maybe the shrugging off of physical infrastructure (buildings, furniture, etc) gave rise to publications that could subsidize more than their old media counterparts?

@deadsuperhero @rbe_expert @rotor Hmm, yeah that's possible too. Though that's basically the same thing as competition from non-journalistic sources. :/

@Angle right, but imagine if the cost of launching a new publication and keeping it running was initially near-negligible in terms of cost, but you gradually ramped up on writers and media production teams and salespeople to sell ad space to companies, to the whole point that the entire operation depended on it.

Now, imagine that there are numerous other sites just like yours, and people only have so much time to spend. How do you get people to visit you to see the ads?

@deadsuperhero That's exactly what I'm saying. Competition from non-journalistic sources. :/

@Angle Oh, I see. I was a little shaky on what you meant by "non-journalistic", because many online publications today don't look so different from news websites.

It's just that places like The Verge are heavily specialized on reporting developments in consumer technology, which is itself an advertising black hole.

Incidentally, many local newspapers keep getting bought up by media juggernauts, compounding the problem in other ways.

@deadsuperhero @Angle

"5 Reasons to Buy the New Pixel 3"
"5 Reasons Not to Buy the New Pixel 3"

Like those sort of articles?

@rbe_expert @Angle yeah, those are trash. But it also can take the form of "leaks", which I'm almost certain is just Apple's marketing strategy for producing hype. Sometimes you'll also get "How John Smith at Google is Re-Thinking the AI Revolution"

...oh no, I'm getting depressed

@Angle @deadsuperhero @rbe_expert

people are deserting print & broadcast media in droves, so ads on TV & newspapers are increasingly worthless.

Internet display ads are virtually all blocked, and those that aren't have a spectacularly high fraud rate.

The only way to actually show ads to people on the internet is to make it look like content to fool the adblockers (ie ads that look like articles aka sponsored content) or be massive enough to be your own ad network (facebook & google)

@Angle @deadsuperhero @rbe_expert

this, and this alone, is why facebook & google are worth so much money. And it's why google was so anxious to kill flash and bundle adblockers in with chrome and all the rest. It's like RoundUp and they're monsanto with roundup-resistant corn.

@rotor @Angle @rbe_expert those are excellent points, and highlight what mass centralization of resources does to the market and its ecosystem.

@deadsuperhero @rbe_expert @rotor It’s the spam/malware model. Across millions of pageviews, you’re going to get some clicks

@deadsuperhero @rotor The sad thing is, if publishers just sold and delivered ads themselves (like they used to), things would not be half as bad. But they got convinced it was some kind of impossible IT-magic and let google, facebook and a huge pile of turd-smuggling ad-tech middle-men take half their income (at the cost of our privacy and usability).

@KnowPresent @deadsuperhero

eh it’s not really that easy. There’s a lot of little details and motivations that make this really difficult.

But you’re right. I think that this is one way that media might recover, but it won’t be for a long time.

@deadsuperhero @rotor But to be fair, the old cash cow for newspapers was classified ads. eBay, Craigslist, etc. basically killed that for them. People selling used Camry's used to finance a lot of great journalism. Maybe we could convince eBay and CL to hire a few muckrakers.

@KnowPresent @deadsuperhero

i’m not sure what the share of revenue was for classified ads.

regardless, it doesn’t apply to TV or magazines and those guys are dying too.


It still blows my mind that people choose to publish all their content, without getting paid, on a site that charges people to read more than a bit of it.

@Blort well, the author doesn't have to run their own infrastructure or pay for a server. But they also don't profit from their own ads, and the exposure of being in your own unique space is extinguished as you drown in an ocean of other people on your server.


Ok, but can you imagine how well companies like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram etc would have done if, from the beginning, they said that people had to pay $5 a month to view more than a few pieces of content?

"You've looked at more than 15 posts this month on Facebook. We like that. Now you have to pay $5 to see any more..."

@deadsuperhero Still waiting for Mozilla's study on content pop-ups to bear fruit.


1. Journalists need money. Give it to them.

2. 99% of newspapers exist for those in power, don't give it to them.

Consider when they did have plenty of money, they produced a lot of good stories, but they were also complicit in Vietnam and Korea. Only eventually turned against it, and then tolerated the military calling them demoralizing.

Maybe for the more local newspapers might have slowed Trump if they had more money, definitely not for the major ones like NYT or WaPo.

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