A Popular post written by a boob for boobs…did I mention boobs yet?

If I were paid per page view, I would wake up in the morning and write a headline like the one above.

This is what our world is coming to. Journalist Michael Ayers (@michaeldayers) shared a story with me this morning in the New York Times – In a World of Online News, Burnout Starts Younger.

The piece is about how online journalists are on deadline around the clock and judged by the amount of page views their pieces get. Here’s a passage:

…they try to eke out a fresh thought or be first to report even the smallest nugget of news — anything that will impress Google algorithms and draw readers their way.

Tracking how many people view articles, and then rewarding — or shaming — writers based on those results has become increasingly common in old and new media newsrooms. The Christian Science Monitor now sends a daily e-mail message to its staff that lists the number of page views for each article on the paper’s Web site that day.

The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times all display a “most viewed” list on their home pages. Some media outlets, including Bloomberg News and Gawker Media, now pay writers based in part on how many readers click on their articles.

To me this story is less about recent-grads being overworked than what a focus on page views and writing for search engines means for media as a whole.

I’m somewhat okay with Gawker having a big board in their office that tracks the most viewed posts and who wrote them; the world turns to them for gossip. But the fact that the NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, and other papers are doing so is really sick. No wonder we don’t hear about people suffering from the financial crisis around the world or the political situation in Kyrgyzstan.

Performance is no longer based on depth and importance, but popular appeal.

In a few years from now maybe I could be the world’s most viewed journalist. Each morning I’ll hit my keyboard first thing and see what’s trending on Twitter and Google and write a post combining as many of the topics as possible.

It would go something like this.

Trending on TWITTER as of 2:54 PM:

1)Cissa Guimares is a Brazilian actress not afraid to show her boobs.
2)Bruna Surfistinha is a former prostitute who blogged about her tricks that likes to show her boobs.
3)Lindsey Lohan used to be an actress now she just shows parts of her boobs and is in prison.
4)Teflon Don is an album by Rick Ross, apparently about bitches:

She came to party like it’s 1999
If she died on my d!@k
She would live through my rhymes

Trending on Google as of 2:54 PM:

1)Defarra Gaymon (actual news) was shot by an undercover cop in NJ.
2)Shirley Sherrod (more actual news!) resigned from USDA after admitting to limiting assistance given to a white farmer because of his race. (editd: oops! The media screwed this one up. She’s back and has received an apology from the President. Imagine that, the media screwed up reporting something.)
3)Colt McCoy is a football player who just got married and a song about his rival Tim Tebow was sung at his wedding.
4)The Switch is a movie in which an actress famous for her boobs gets pregnant with a turkey baster.
5)The Donner Party wasn’t much of a party, unless you like eating humans.

So that’s it. If you want to rake in the page views to protect your job, pay off school loans, or feed the kids you should write this:

Chicks show boobs at Donner Party

At the late night Donner Party following Colt McCoy’s wedding, Cissa Guimares, Bruna Surfistinha, and Lindsey Lohan showed their boobs while dancing to Rick Ross’s new album Teflon Don. Defarra Gaymon and Shirley Sherrod were not in attendance, but they’ll only be trending for the next day or two so they weren’t invited. Word on the street is that Sherrod, in fact, has boobs, but partygoers would rather be eaten than look at them or waterboarded with a turkey baster.

At this rate in a few years we’ll all be bigger asses than…well…than Bruna Surfistinha’s…

pam says:

There’s a video kicking around from TBEX in which the reporter asks a handful of folks how they find trustworthy travel “content” (sorry, I hate that word, it always gets quotes from me). In it Wendy Perrin talks about how you have to really dive into a place and it takes years to become an expert. Johnny Jet says he looks at traffic and if the traffic high, something must be going right.

Popularity. Boobs are popular.

I think I’ll go lie down and feel sorry for myself for a little while about now.

Kelsey, you have no idea how much you hit this topic on the head. One of the publications I write for pays bloggers by page views. Every day we get at least one email listing all of the trending topics on Twitter, Google, Yahoo, etc and we’re encouraged to use those topics in our posts, our headlines, etc.

I call it pageview whoring. Sure, we’re supposed to be generating constantly fresh, interesting content so that we have regular readers who will read our writing daily. But in reality, the page views on popular topics drive a lot of traffic.

I’ve often wondered if it’s not a vicious circle. Tiger Woods crashes his car. Everyone writes about it. Everyone realizes that everyone’s writing about it so it must be a trending topic, so everyone writes about it more. It becomes a more popular trending topic because so many people are writing about it, so more people write about it. Rinse, repeat.

Sigh. Thanks for letting me vent a little. 🙂 Oh, and have I told you recently that you’re the coolest? LOL!

PS: I forgot – I can’t believe how big that woman’s ass is. Thanks for making me feel soooo much better about my own fat ass! LOL

Kelsey says:

Joanne, I was on a bus when I read your PS and had to apologize to the person in front of me for spitting coffee all over them.

I met a friend the other day who is social media strategist for a Ad Agency. She’s starting to feel a little disgusted how the world is turning into followers and page views. It’s like Junior High student council elections all over again. It’s one giant, shallow pool of popularity contest.

Alex Harris says:

Hey Joanne, from one fat ass to… chin up. Look how many men she has around her. When will women’s mags wake up to the fact men like curvy women? Yes, women with more than just boobs.

Kelsey, great post.

Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t there a stat somewhere that shows majority of eyeballs online belong to 14 year-old boys?

If it is just page views media is measuring, then of course the stories providing indepth analysis of the extractive industries’ CSR practices are not going to score, are they? But then, publishers are not going to sell too many Amex cards or IBM software or BMWs to the audience if this is what they are attracting with their sex and gossip posts built with the specific intent of ‘scoring’ page views.

My own blog doesn’t rate a mention in terms of views, but my email subscriber quality is through the roof. Which I suspect says something about what people read and subscribe to (and build a relationship with) – vs what they might look at fleetingly.

Let your voice be heard!