If there was an article that I could just wrap my hands around and hug, it would be the City Paper’s takedown of the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com today:
“Two writers say stuffed Bigfoot is legit” and “I’ve never had sex with my husband” are the sort of headlines on Philly.com that fill Philadelphia Inquirer reporters with dread and despair.
The website, created as the web portal for the Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, is at the center of a spectacular ownership meltdown at Interstate General Media (IGM), which owns the three media properties.
Lexie Norcross [editor’s note: who is 26], daughter of owner and powerful South Jersey Democratic political boss George Norcross, has become a lightning rod for newsroom criticism in her role as vice president of digital operations and corporate services. The long-troubled website now competes against the two papers that it was created to support — and uses gossipy content to drive traffic.
“Most of the problems on that site … [are] because Lexie has been trying to turn it into a Buzzfeed,” says a former Philly.com staffer who, like others, spoke to City Paper only on the condition of anonymity.
The problem is two-fold:
1) You can’t take the biggest website in the city, which used to be filled with actual news and commentary, and turn it into BuzzFeed overnight. It’s… jarring. It’s not what people are looking for when they type doubaleu doubaleu doubaleu dot philly dot com into their you are el bar. It’d be like going to the New York Times’ website looking for a slideshow of the 10 Hottest FOX Cartoon Characters (Lois Griffin all the way, and quite frankly, it’s not even close). But if you are going to do that, then you need to inject some personality or have talented people give unique and humorous takes, not rely on the gaggle of mostly inexperienced twenty-somethings and non-writers, and syndicated content, like Philly.com does.
2) BuzzFeed uses the low-brow stuff to support the high-brow stuff. Philly.com has quality content – from the Inquirer and Daily News – but it’s impossible to find. End the pissing match and give people – people who are paying attention and who might actually have enough money to support advertisers – the good stuff that they went, and make that stuff easy to find. Or, better yet, create unique and progressive content, like what the NY Times did today with that baseball map, or what ESPN is doing with FiveThirtyEight, or what VOX is doing in general.
You can’t just start serving shit to people when they’re used to eating… um, something more edible than shit. Also, an editor helps.