“It occurred to me, as I sat there watching an interracial couple banging, that jacking off in a hotel room was not unlike the larger experience of campaign reporting. You watch two performers. You kind of like it when one of them gets humiliated. You know they’re professionals, so you don’t feel much sympathy for them. You wish you could participate, but instead you watch with a hidden envy and feel vaguely ashamed for watching. You think you could probably do as good a job or better. You sometimes get a glimpse, intentionally or not, of society’s hidden desires and fears. You watch the porn week after week, the scenes almost always the same, none of them too memorable. The best ones get sent around the Internet.”—Michael Hastings – Hack, GQ (October 2008)
All this talk of uniques overtaking page-views as the defining metric for online success has me worried about one thing: alienating readers. If the new edict is simply to get fresh eyeballs onto sensationalist stories, so be it. Originality is a must and it’s the only surefire way to grow readership and increase credibility. But at the same time, the relentless push for uniques has the potential to come at the expense of diluting what made some sites successful to begin with. Traditional outlets simply focused on their individual beats while aggregation sites provided readers a clearing house of the most important news in a specific topic. There’s a potential for balance between the two, but I’ve yet to see any site pull it off.
“Rather than train journalists to dismiss their own experiences, what if we trained them to use those experiences to help them explain the news to their audience? Allow their humanity to shape their journalism? This isn’t some radically profound notion—it only seems that way in the context of the ridiculous zero-sum debate over the relative merits of “straight” news versus the self-absorbed nature of blogs. Maybe there is a way to combine the best of both.”—Look at Me! - Maureen Tkacik, Columbia Journalism Review