There were too many of us doing the same job. When I started reporting in 2006 on fresh new companies like Facebook and Twitter, it was a novelty beat that sometimes came across to my senior colleagues as a gimmick. Five years later, there were so many reporters covering Mark Zuckerberg’s every move that we scrambled to make our individual interpretations as original as possible to the point of hyperbole. Or we groveled for ‘exclusive’ stories that frankly had no business being in the spotlight. We got hooked on the cocaine of the media industry: clickbait.
Caroline McCarthy, one of my favorite writers from an earlier generation of Internet writers, sums up what ails digital media. It is not just Zuckerberg, but every aspect is covered by everyone in media, with no particular insight, no brand loyalty and just nothing but distrust of readers. The cult of growth at any cost means that publications have lost what made them special. There is so much to say anything about this subject, but I would leave you with these words of an anonymous publishing executive:
There should be 10 digital publishers, and now there’s 70, and we’re all fighting for the scraps.
And it is not just digital publishers. Even traditional media outlets are so, for the lack of a better word, basic.