In one of those weird coincidences that makes you think that the universe is rigged, I was
click to enlarge
finishing up Chris Anderson's The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More
just as Matt Pulle made the following tweet
too often blogs excerpt long passages of newspaper stories, often with no attribution but a link. check it out: http://tinyurl.com/mgbwdn
Well, of course I had to go check it out, because "How the internet is ruining the newspaper business" is a topic so frequently taken up by newspaper people that it practically constitutes its own literary genre and since I got my master's degree in the related, yet opposed field of "How linking things will save literature," I cannot pass up the chance to see a well-executed example of the form.
So, I follow Pulle's link, where I get to read what seems to be a young journalist turning from common sense--
A few weeks ago, I scored what passes these days for one of
journalism's biggest coups, satisfying a holy writ for newspaper impact
in the Internet age. Gawker, the snarky New York culture and media Web
site, had just blogged about my story in that day's Washington Post
--to what can only be described as editor-induced idiocy, as he writes about what a terrible thing it is to have a place like Gawker link to what you write.
America, Ian Shapira writes for the whole world to see
Gawker was the second-biggest referrer of visitors to my story online. (No. 1 was the "Today's Papers" feature on Slate,
which is owned by The Post.) Though some readers got their fill of
Loehr and never clicked the link to my story, others found their way to
my piece only by way of Gawker.
And yet Shapira spends three pages pissing and moaning about how maybe we should reform copyright laws to prevent this kind of thing from happening. Let me repeat--Gawker sent Shapira an audience for his work that he would otherwise not have had and he's talking about reforming copyright laws to prevent that.
And somehow it's the internet's fault that the newspaper industry grown increasingly irrelevant?
Let's, for fun, turn to Anderson, who says, on pages 236 a few applicable things. I'm not going to bore you with them all, but I would point you to this
Traffic that comes from such third-party links (or from organic search results, which are determined by those links) is traffic from readers who are inclinded to like, respect, and appreciate what's there, because they are following a recommendation from a trusted source. This notion of traffic with a positive bias is a brand new thing.
Apparently so new that Shapira's editor at the Washington Post can't recognize the power of being seen as a paper worth being talked about.
And now, apparently, neither can Shapira.