Episode 142: Meet the New Boss

brodie

Brodie reviews the first half of the superbowl

An appeal to the lowest common denominator is something meant derisively, as if they’re better than the people to whom the appeal is made. But, in this complaint, there is something of a confession. Either we don’t understand math (specifically, how to arrive at the lowest common denominator) or we don’t realize our part in the equation. During our Buzz Feed discussion on this week’s Todcast, it became clear how large a part of the LCD problem I was. I have a confession to make:

I hate Buzz Feed. A lot.

Snobs like me sneer at Buzz Feed’s LCD approach. Lists are the lowest form or writing and the least original form of presentation, just ask Moses. Moreover, Buzz Feed is loaded with Click Bait–photos of kittens and wot-not–produced expressly to generate ad revenue. It’s a little offensive. Well, until you (OK, I) stop trying to show how unimpressed you are and take a moment to think about it.

As reported in on this Todcast over 15 months ago, Buzz Feed is getting into the long form journalism business. Long form as is serious, creative, and in-depth as list journalism is trite, soul-crushing, and horrible. Long form journalism is In Cold Blood, it is Into Thin Air, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It is an opportunity for a reporter to wring all the useful facts out of an event in an engaging way. It represents some of the best literature and the most important reporting of recent times, and likely will be the most invested-in kind of writing over the next decade.

So, fatuous Buzz Feed dumps a ton of money into the long form journalism market. How odd is that? Actually, in the history of the printed word, not odd at all.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “if it bleeds it leads.” If not, it is a newspaper term that means the story most likely to get everyone’s attention is presented most prominently. There are two reasons why.

Reason number one is the least satisfying: Sensationalism sells newspapers. It was the click bait of the modern era. But, along with reason number two, it shows how complex reportage can be. The more noble side of, “if it bleeds it leads,” is, if people open the paper to read about something titillating, they might happen across a “real” story that matters to them. To put Buzz Feed in perspective, the click bait might be the spoonful of sugar.

The fact is, too few people are willing to pay for great writing and in-depth reporting. But the so-called LCDs are happy to fund such things as long as they’re kept up to date on LOL Cats and celebrity gossip.

Buzz Feed has succeeded, and likely will continue to succeed by basing its entire business model on the newspapers it is helping kill. The only thing that’s changed about news reporting in the last 250 years is the delivery medium.

Protect and Serve

This week’s Todcast is a little Super Bowl heavier than you might have expected, but we don’t get too caught up in the ads or the game, per se. Instead, our primary concern is what the commercials and their social outfall say about how we actually use social media versus the way we’re perceived as using social media.

As promised in the show, here are some of the Super Bowl ads and ones you didn’t see

Big (Dog)Fish

The folks at GCFL shot the Dogfish Head holiday party, which was held safely after the holidays so everyone could participate. The annual event is held at the Starboard in Dewey, which is pretty cool. That is, it’s a great indicator of a great restaurant when another great restaurant decides to hold their event at your place. GCFL will have the video of the event out soon.

Todman out: Gentlemen’s Club

This month’s Gentleman’s Club was appropriate to the weather, low key and all around town. Todd’s recounting of it was amusing for all it didn’t contain, though.

You can follow Todd and Tony individually on Twitter, or collectively by subscribing to the Todcast on iTunes. If you can’t stand only getting 30 minutes of Tony’s dulcet tones, or you’re interested in home brewing, check out the Beer with Strangers podcast. If it’s his writing you can’t stand to be without, the No Relation blog is open 24/7.

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Tony Russo
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Tony Russo has worked as a print and digital journalist for the better part of the 21st century, writing for and editing regional weeklies, dailies and destination websites including OceanCity.com and ShoreCraftBeer.com. Tony has written two books on beer for the History Press. Eastern Shore Beer (2014) and Delaware Beer (2016). He lives in Delmar, Md. with his wife Kelly and the only of his four daughters who hasn't moved out. Together they keep their dog and cat comfortable.