Hey! Thanks for reading! Just a reminder that I wrote this some years ago, and may have much more complicated feelings about this topic than I did when I wrote it. Happy to elaborate, feel free to reach out to me! 😄
🎵 The song for this post is Cumbia de los Muertos, by Ozomatli. 🎵
Looks like The Outline is closing down. That's really too bad—I liked their Elixir post, and I thought their style, while often rightfully clowned on, did feel pretty fresh. It was often snarky and/or contrarian, but even the worst examples were at least moderately entertaining. And, like Gawker, you're not doing anything interesting if you don't go too far every once in a while; you only find the line by realizing you've crossed it. If you've never crossed it, you don't really know where it is.
(FWIW, I'd argue the Outline never even crossed it. They were only a little weird, sometimes)
One of my favorite pieces of the last year is The Death of the Rude Press; it's downright depressing that engaged people writing for other engaged people that don't take a flattering voice towards the powerful so often dies by the whims of the powerful. Most of these rich dipshits will tell you to toughen up but can't take even a little bit of scrutiny or heat. What they absolutely can't fathom is thinking these people (who aren't as rich as them, you see) might also possess some intelligence, have distinct interests, and/or have talents and abilities they don't. I urge you to also read The Adults in the Room (or, like, look at Jared Kushner lol).
Even if they're not directly involved in killing these outlets with malice (Gawker and Thiel) or incompetence (most private equity, like Deadspin and the herb), it's still mad frustrating that survival depends on the whims of the super-wealthy. The third piece I urge you to read on these topics, it's this one by jwz on community, after another SF establishment closed down because its rich owners got tired of running it.
It's not clear to me how we fix this except, government intervention that looks like decent antitrust, but the Dem primary showed us that even that avenue is closed to us (and wouldn't have done much: the courts were the drivers of 20th-century antitrust, and they're currently packed with assholes). Most people have the memory and attention span of a goldfish, so a quick primer (off the top of my head, I'm not even researching this): we've watched the journalism industry bleed over two decades due to the Internet fucking up their bad business model (hell, they were crying about blogs, to give you a sense of how long this has been happening), private equity vultures destroying everything they touch including media, the consolidation and gross politicization of local news via Sinclair broadcasting, cable news being cable news, and social media as a misinformation and radicalization vector. Of course Americans believe shit like QAnon. Of course Brazilians elected Bolsonaro (Brazil is YouTube's second-biggest market!). We're reaping what we've sowed.
(except… I didn't sow it! I didn't ask for any of this shit but I still gotta live with it!!!)
Nobody's having a good time right now, but lets wish the best to our friends who write things professionally. It's never looked good for them, but these are especially Bad Times, and have been for decades.
Another favorite article about this: Here’s a Better Reason to Unsubscribe From The New York Times, also by Pareene, on how NYT fits into all of this (mostly, why it's not great that almost all prestige journalism is consolidating into one very flawed outlet. Also, Bezos owns the Washington Post! Murdoch owns the Wall Street Journal! Bloomberg owns Bloomberg! aaaaaaahhhHHHHHHH).
Also, On Smarm.
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