On The Media Slaughtering That Happened Today

See, here’s what I think most of people don’t get about online media: people don’t like words. At least, not as much as the people who write them do. Grantland, which ESPN shut down today, churned out fine work. But even as someone who sits at his computer all day and whose job it is to read about sports, I find it difficult to read more than one or two pieces of the length Grantland often produced. People have lives, things to do. Generally speaking, news and commentary is a distraction or mild form of entertainment. So for every lengthy piece that is too interesting to pass up, there are 10 pieces that are boring as shit, bordering on self-indulgent. I follow a lot of journalists on Twitter, and too often you’ll see a Tweet like this: Just an exquisite piece from [insert writer you’ve never heard of] about the downfall of the individual scorekeeper and how data has replaced a once manual process. That could be a terrific piece, but, honestly, who has time to read it?

It’s not fair if it loses money for the outlet paying them.

What’s made sites like Buzzfeed, Deadspin, or even the oft-self-indulgent Verge so successful is that they complement the long-form stuff with stuff that gets clicks and makes money– short, readable posts, lists or other forms of entertainment. The reasons why sitcoms are more promoted than news programs and morning shows have #buzzy segments surrounding political segments are the same reasons why Buzzfeed has 20 lists for every hardcore news story. The entertaining stuff makes the money and allows them to do the smarter stuff. [The same way my one-sentence post about the GameDay truck being parked at Home Depot, which took me less than a minute to write, will get three times as many views as this post, which will take about 30.] Too often, journalists think they work for non-profits.

Grantland had too many words. Readers Paul and Justin nailed it:

Voila_Capture 2015-10-30_02-42-51_PM

Grantland thought they were too good for the former (generally speaking). And though I’m not sure they failed to consider the latter, the fact is that 50% of readership these days comes from mobile devices. You need to have content people can read while waiting in line at Starbucks, or waiting for a table, to support the stuff they read while taking a shit. Of course, losing Bill Simmons, the ultimate shitter scribe, doesn’t help.

For years, newspapers could get away with charging extreme advertising rates because they were one of the only games in town. If you were a car dealer and wanted to reach a lot of people, newspapers and TV were the ways to do it. Classified ads printed money for papers, until Craigslist came along. With the rise of the web, advertisers could be smarter and more efficient about how they spent their money. They could actually track conversions. And though you can’t always put a price on a branding premium, it became easy for sponsors to see that newspapers were, largely, ripping them off. [As an ad sales rep for the Inquirer and Daily News, we were instructed to tell advertisers that up to three people read each copy of the paper, which was, obviously, complete bullshit.] This problem was compounded by declining circulation. Newspapers, too, suffered from some of the same stuffy problems that plagued Grantland – I can assure you that an Inquirer reporter thinks they are better than just about any other local writer whose publication actually makes money – which means they were fighting a two-pronged battle: often-uninteresting content combined with a dying medium (business model).

So, maybe, the merging of the Inquirer and Daily News, and the “suspension” of Grantland, will lead some to finally acknowledge that there’s a place for both the smart stuff and the entertaining stuff. Because often, the entertaining stuff pays for the smart stuff. Ergo, here’s a picture of the girls of CBS 3 and one of their lucky coworkers:

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36 Responses

  1. Solid commentary.

    As you said, people just don’t have the attention span any more. While I check Philly.com as soon as I get into the office in the morning, I usually just scan parts of a few articles to get the gist of what’s going on instead of reading entire pieces. I heard someone call it “information snacking” before and thought that was pretty spot on.

    While some journalists think they work for non-profits, others write vapid shit just to get clicks and hell with how interesting and compelling it is. Like, if your story on the Home Depot bus was written as: “The College Game Day bus arrived in Philly and you won’t BELIEVE what happened next!” or “20 reasons why creepy guys are obsessed with the girls who will be at college game day…# 5 will blow you away!”

    1. “As you said, people just don’t have the attention span any more. While I check Philly.com as soon as I get into the office in the morning,”
      You’re supposed to start working as soon as you get into the office in the morning you paycheck stealing slacker. Go clean out your desk.

    2. That’s why few in this land understand what’s going on, what real “policy” is about, how complex life is.
      Its all freaking sound bites and play to the emotions. Real thinking takes time and effort. Sorry you’re not up
      to it.

  2. Kyle did Grantland ever figure out how to monetize their podcasts?
    My guess is no, but they continued to put a lot of them out, and the few times I tried to listen to them I could get through them.

  3. Ironically, I just read this on my iPhone while taking a shit. Kudos to Kyle – the man knows his audience.

    1. Ironically I am reading your comment while taking a shit. I’m pretty certain I had a no wiper, then pushed that last turd out and now I’m on wipe # 7. Time for the baby wipes

  4. Good article Kyle. Totally agree with the assessment regarding the concept of a lengthy article on an online platform. I spend 60% of my day in my office in front of the computer. I quickly go through web pages to read a paragraph or two of topics, but if it gets longer than that, I lose interest or get pulled out of the office, never to return to the original article.

    It sucks to see anyone lose their job at any company, but that’s the reality of print media. For those writers that have been clinging onto their jobs in the print newspaper, they had to have seen this coming and hopefully were making plans on supplementing their income elsewhere.

    On a different note, I never watch local news so I have no idea who any of those people in that picture were. But damn, I know who Meisha Johnson is now. She’s talented.

  5. the media breeds a generation of democrat-voting idiots who think their feelings are more important than facts, then COMPLAINS when that same stupidity and lack of attention span hurt THEM? ha! what a joke. screw them all, I hope they starve.

  6. Some rolling thoughts as we head into the weekend:

    1. IT. WILL. HAPPEN. Temple 23, Notre Dame 21.
    2. Just a heads up to anyone rooting for ND: Declan Sullivan. Google that name.
    3. Suggest anyone looking for tang to head down to the Gameday set. Word is La Salle girls are lined up ready for a pounding. Tons of sluts.
    4. One of Kyle’s better weeks for content. I think I got a shotout this week. I’d like to thing me calling Laskowski out on his BS is a reason for this marked improvement.
    5. Jim is still just horrible. I mean, come on.
    6. I’ll give $20 to anyone who listens to Josh Innes for more than a minute. What a fat slob.
    7. Fanatic killing it. All-Star day was great and today’s show at Temple show what kind of Philly station they are. Ratings reflect that. Within a decade WIP will toast as their audience will be dead.
    8. Fargo is sensational. Must watch.
    9. Search for “Boss’ Daughter” on PH. Amazing video. Anyone know the blonde? I want to see more of her.

  7. ESPN as a whole is hemorrhaging money. They’ve overpaid so often to obtain broadcast rights that they’re needing to cut back in personnel all across the company.

  8. This is the problem with this country today. People are too lazy to read. It’s not a coincidence that our education rankings are in the absolute gutter at the same time people don’t take time out of their day to read. I know I sound like a grumpy old guy, but how hard is it to take 45 minutes out of your day to read something thought provoking, even a half hour? Rather than skimming Facebook on the train to work, read something. Rather than watching the 3450934543 rerun of some mindless nonsense, read something. Rather than play some stupid game on your phone, read.

    Fucking read, people. Everyone will be better off for it.

    1. This.
      I’m gonna drop the snark and say this was a very well-written look at the world of media today. And it sucks that the outlets for good long-form commentary in any field – sports, politics, entertainment – are dwindling. And I realize it is emblematic of the way society changes. Hell, I read this as I was dropping anchor myself. There should always be a place for good journalism and I fear that we will keep hurtling toward the world seen in “Idiocracy” at a disturbing pace.

  9. It is also an embarrassment to this country that Kyle can make the same amount of money for typing words that intelligent, insightful and interesting people who work for sites like Grantland can.

    1. But Kyle is self-employed with a couple of other writers helping him. He is his own support staff. I don’t know what he makes a year but he still has to bust his ass for it on a daily basis. He is the writer, the editor and the producer here. He is also the CEO, and business manager. He manages the web site and the advertisers and has to produce content every day that gets eyeballs to his site and attract advertisers. Grant land writers got paid fairly well from what I hear but had to do none of that and had ESPN as their banner to work under, which draws eyeballs because of what it is.

      1. Yea but you’re leaving out that Kyle’s shit is actually shit. Seriously: Jealously trolling Temple fans on their big day, writing long-obvious, banal shit (like this article), screaming “called it!” any time a predictable event occurs (“Flyers alum gets job in front office? CALLED IT!”), name-dropping any time any quasi-locally-famous person mentions him (John Clark said “CB in a tweet”!!), and stealing from Deadspin a day late. That’s CB. So yea he does it himself, but the end product is still shit, and he’s still the most embarrassing thing to come out of Villanova. Seriously….that’s your degree and bottom-feeding is what you’re doing with it? Actually rather pathetic.

      2. I agree and this is something I should have said. Dude is clearly a hard worker and runs a fine business, I was referring to the content, but I agree

  10. I’m confused, you were instructed to tell advertisers up to three people read each copy of the paper? What do you mean? That three people at the Daily News would read it, or only three people in Philadelphia would read each copy?

  11. I’m sorry. This is bullshit. You may be right about the landscape but it doesn’t excuse it.
    Americans are a very stupid people with the attention span of gnats. That’s why they reelected
    George Bush AFTER he invaded Iraq and why they blame Obama after Bush and gang tore the economy to shreds.

    The Lincoln Douglas debates were 4 hours long. The idea of THINKING (as Carlin used to say) is as foreign concept in this bizarre place.

  12. Bingo. And the reason that Donald trump and Ben Carson are seen as actually contenders for the presidency of the United fucking states.

    1. like cruz said, everyone on that cnbc stage is better qualified than anything the dems dust off

  13. I did think that Grantland was smart and well-written. Buzzfeed…nope. I hope that is not where you are getting your intel from, Kyle.

  14. STFU. You have no idea what you are talking about until you get another bit of consistent experience outside of this site itself. This pontificating garbage is exactly why Temple is appreciated more than the pretentious Villanova. God you are so annoying on your thought pieces like this.

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