Straight to the source

# No sooner did I mention cleaning my RSS feed of pollution than, somewhat ironically, a few people linked to a piece on Mashable (one of the worst offenders in my opinion) that pleads for people to stop using Facebook to find news:

And the ask is simple:

Use your browser bar.*

[*Or bookmarked websites.]

That's it.

There are occasional diamonds in the rough and if things are important they'll find their way to you by means other than a social feed. I first came across this via Jason Kottke's blog.

The idea behind the piece obviously resonated.

Kamer writes:

"So! Facebook created the newsfeed, and then turned to publishers/media outlets, and said: Guess what? Everyone's on Facebook. You want a piece of the action? You're gonna play ball with us."

This was fine for a while until the big blue decided to move the goalposts. I am reminded of Vader's conversation with Lando on Bespin:

"I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further."

So, while I heartily agree with the sentiment, the cynic in me can't help but think that just as media organisations embraced the good times with open arms they are now looking for excuses and ways to survive now the deal has gone sour.

It's like waking the morning after a drunken one night stand and realising you got into bed with the wrong person. It was fine while it lasted but, in a regret-fuelled tirade, you start posting shit about them in an attempt to make yourself feel better.

Maybe I am just too cynical and long to be proven otherwise.

Some of us never stopped visiting the sites we liked, using RSS to keep up to date rather than our social streams, and so kept control over what we read. Others have started to swear off the influence of the networks. But this isn't all a one way street.

Those publications that succumbed to Facebook's charms need to lead the line and take a stand giving readers a compelling reason to visit.

Here's a few suggestions:

  • They need to stop posting clickbait and regain their voice, what made them special in the days before Facebook?
  • They need to stop rehashing the same stories as a dozen other sites with little or no extra value just because they didn't get the scoop.
  • They need to stop hitting publish on multiple, small, related items, purely in the name of page views and ad impressions, that could be condensed into one post.
  • They need to invest in more investigative journalism, in depth pieces that address an actual issue.

Yes, they may suffer in the short term but quality will ultimately out.

  1. patrickrhone says: #
    Funny, I had a similar reaction to that "Don't use Facebook" post. I clicked on it, saw where it was written, and immediately discounted it because of the source (Mashable). Like if Buzzfeed said not to take mindless online quizzes.
  2. Colin Walker says: #
    As much as I agree with the sentiment I see no other evidence that they’re serious. It’s like clickbait in itself.
  3. dgold says: #
    while I tend to agree that this article is just click bait, perhaps the overall tenor of the piece reflects a growing anxiety across society that allowing the BlueSites control of all dialogue has been a disaster
  4. Colin Walker says: #
    Yes, but isn’t that how the best clickbait works? Hook into the public zeitgeist for your own ends?
  5. dgold says: #
    oh, undoubtedly. However, if the zeitgeist is towards a desertion of the BlueSites, then anything which amplifies that trend is welcome. I hesitate to use the enemy of mine enemy line, but it is apposite.