Media postsMonday July 29, 2013
Reading the Newspaper with George W.S. Trow - II
“I read every word in the paper about Algeria, Ukraine, and Belarus; these are the Underreported Zones. You should get a feel in the paper for what is underreported and what is overreported. Overreported is Newt Gingrich. One-tenth of one percent of what has been written about Newt will do you just fine. About Algeria, Ukraine, Belarus, you need to read every word; also Shanghai, Chinese billionaires, and the Russian mafia. Also currency trading.”
-- George W.S. Trow, “My Pilgrim's Progress: Media Studies 1950-1998,” pg. 43
Reading the Newspaper with George W.S. Trow - I
“There isn't much real news, you know.
”Most news is in relation to what a government (or a unit of government) is willing to let you know about what it is saying or doing in relation to another government or unit of government. You could spend your whole life reading abou the Middle East. You don't want to do that.“
-- George W.S. Trow, ”My Pilgrim's Progress: Media Studies 1950-1998," pg. 42
Latest New Yorker Cover by Marcellus Hall Celebrates NYC's New Bike-Sharing Program
Marcellus Hall was immensely talented even during high school. We both went to Washburn in south Minneapolis (he the class of '82, me '81) and ran cross-country together (he generally ahead). We also shared a love of the Beatles in the face of classmates who preferred bands like REO Speedwagon.
This is his latest New Yorker cover:
It celebrates New York's new bike-sharing program.
Monday’s riders were, by definition, an eager and forgiving cross section: founding members who registered for a yearly pass for $95, allowing them to ride between stations for as long as 45 minutes with no added charge.
Marc, pronounced with a soft-c, and the author of the new childrens' book, “Everyone Sleeps,” about a dog prowling at night, has been biking in New York for 15 years. The NYer profiles him here. Don't miss the slideshow.
The True Vice of Vice: Advertisers with Editorial Input
Besides selling banner displays and short ads that play before its videos, Vice offers its advertisers the option of funding an entire project in exchange for being listed as co-creator and having editorial input. Advertisers can pay for a single video, or, for a higher price—one to five million dollars for twelve episodes, according to Vice—they can pay for an entire series, on a topic that dovetails with the company’s image. (The North Face, the outdoors company, recently sponsored a series called “Far Out,” in which Vice staffers visit people living in “the most remote places on Earth.”)
At the highest end of the sponsorship spectrum are verticals, in which companies can sponsor entire Web sites. If you go to Vice’s main site, Vice.com, you’ll see the weird, ribald material that defines its brand (“New York Fashion Week . . . On Acid!,” “India’s Street Doctors Will Bleed the Sickness Right Out of You”). Tabs at the top connect to Web sites on single subjects: Motherboard, which focusses on technology; Fightland (ultimate fighting); and Noisey (music). The content on these sites is sponsored by companies such as Garnier, Toshiba, and Scion. Vice’s sponsored verticals tend to be in softer areas, like music and art. As Smith said, “Crest doesn’t want to be next to severed heads.”
Smith describes sponsored content as a return to the soap-opera model of early television: “It’s ‘As the World Turns,’ sponsored by Procter & Gamble. And you’re going to do that show anyway. And Procter & Gamble just sort of fits in.” But when I spoke to Spencer Baim, Vice’s chief strategic officer and the head of Virtue, its in-house advertising agency, he pointed out that mere sponsorship has become “a dirty word” among advertisers. “Being a sponsor is just slapping your logo on something and not being strategic about it,” he said. Instead, he added, sponsored content should represent something “fresh”—a true creative collaboration between Vice and its advertiser.
Almost nothing about Vice appeals to me. I'm not their demographic (male: 18-34), but even when I was their demographic I wasn't, because I hated this kind of shit. Widdicombe accurately calls the sensibility “adolescent, male and proudly boorish.” It's actually worse. It's part of the downfall.
It's not hip. It's sponsored.
Going About My Business After Boston
I have no insight, no wisdom, about the bombings that took place at the Boston Marathon yesterday. I heard about it relatively early, followed it for about an hour, then did what we all have to do: I went back to work. I continued to write. I did the laundry. I changed those two light bulbs in the kitchen. I fed Jellybean at 6 and again at 8. I read my friend John Rosengren's biography of Hank Greenberg.
Monica Guzman, columnist with The Seattle Times, tweeted about the bombings yesterday at 2 pm. She'd just heard. She was horrified. An hour and fifteen minutes later, she tweeted this:
No answers from the president's briefing. We still don't know who, we still don't why...— Monica Guzman (@moniguzman) April 15, 2013
“Still.” We want zip-zip in this culture. The future is now and now is so 10 minutes ago. We keep trying to keep up with the nothing that's yet to happen.
But there are obvious dangers in rushing to answer. Here's the initial report from The New York Post:
The Post ran other headlines: “Authorities ID suspect as Saudi national...” They kept these headlines up long after we knew that 2 (later 3) were dead and the Saudi national wasn't a suspect.
For a time, people thought the JFK Library had been attacked, too. That was an electrical fire, apparently.
I tend to slow down in moments like these. It seems like the rest of the world gets frantic and angry and demands answers while I just slow down and get sad. I know I'm far away from the scene. I know I'm just experiencing all of it through media. I know real tragedy is happening to real people, as it does every day, but I'm here, viewing it through a screen, and can't help. Wringing my hands doesn't help. So I go back to work. I follow the directive of the cop at the scene: I go about my business.
I know the answer to the question that everyone is asking, WHY?, a word the Reno paper splashed across its front page, will come to us eventually. I also know, as we all know, that that answer will be sad, and small, and stupid. We're just waiting to find out what kind of sad, and small, and stupid.
Twitter: @ErikLundegaardTweets by @ErikLundegaard