Online Journalism Incredibility

Gizmodo, one of the many Gawker blogs, has what can be described as an antagonistic relationship with its readership. Someone posts an article, and the comments will be full of individuals complaining about errors. Someone else posts an article, and the same thing happens. Then Gizmodo will post an article about how people should respond to them, like the trolling article mentioned in a previous post. This will cause more complaints. Rinse and repeat. As this is a Gawker site, many of these articles will be posted in day because the staff members are told to produce. A site that updates multiple times a day is going to get traffic, traffic means money via ad revenue, and the quality of the writing means nothing so long as readers click something. The goal is clear.

In fact, it’s too transparent. This is Gizmodo’s model. They know that there are many readers who harbor an indignant rage that needs to be released. These readers wait for anything to tear into because they need a release. Gizmodo needs hits, so it purposely baits them into reading. It’s an abusive symbiosis, which is becoming more and more painful to witness.

The most recent baiting article is simply titled, “We’re Not Objective”. This would be a fine admission if not for the tone succinctly set by the opening paragraph:

Gizmodo is not objective. It never has been, I don’t think. And I hope it never will be. Because the point isn’t to be something as meaningless—and frankly, false—as objective. The point is to tell the truth.

The article goes on to say that the truth can be an opinion and that objectivity, even scientific objectivity, is “bullshit.” Matt Buchanan, the article’s author, has somewhat of a point. Scientific evidence has been proven wrong in the past, and one’s opinion is the truth about that person’s perspective. That is absolutely fine. But be sure to call it what it is. Don’t just label it as truth. When the word truth is used without modifiers, it suggests a universal. Just say opinion. Unless of course the goal is to get those who object to jump to the comments section.

This is a ploy because Gizmodo is desperate. This site is not respected at all by the tech community or reputable tech enthusiasts. It is staffed by mid-to-late 20-somethings with no experience who cause so much of an unprofessional ruckus that they themselves get banned from functions of the site. Every day it becomes more clear that what should be interesting community for the discussion of tech is little more than collection of individuals whose writing skills and internet etiquette were honed on LiveJournal. Or perhaps DeadJournal – because LJ was too mainstream.

Unfortunately current trends still favor irony, which is how they stay afloat. The average 20-something, caught up in the throes adultolescence, doesn’t recognize negative response as a cue to modify inappropriate behaviors. Instead the ironic adult-child will modify the goal to include eliciting negative responses just to keep the ego intact. After all, one can easily see how much more pleasant it is to think, “I made them respond this way, and they come back for more,” than, “This is the best I can do, and no one understands me!” That sums up the business model.

Gizmodo is probably not the only site with this practice. Strong, antagonistic, acerbic sites exist all around the internet, but Gizmodo is the one in my radar. Well, that was in my radar. I can’t be one of those people who complains in hope of a change (although I was involved in a thread recently that was moved to the trolling area, and I can’t say it was inappropriate since we were complaining about something as piddly as anime knowledge), nor can I be someone who reads but refuses to provide any feedback. After all, they still have my clicks that way. So I won’t frequent their site anymore – and I suggest all those who complain about them do the same.

The best way to change pop media is to stop lining its wallet. This is a theme that has been popping up a lot in my head recently. This is neither the first nor last time you will hear of it from me.

Gizmodo is not objective. It never has been, I don’t think. And I hope it never will be. Because the point isn’t to be something as meaningless—and frankly, false—as objective. The point is to tell the truth.

About Gospel X

Media commentator who tries not to waste time - and often fails

Posted on February 20, 2012, in journalism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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