Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Broad Green Dates 'Knight of Cups' and Two More Releases Broad Green Dates 'Knight of Cups' and Two More Releases Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal Is 'The Revenant' the Most Hellish Shoot of All Time? Is 'The Revenant' the Most Hellish Shoot of All Time? Gabriel García Márquez Documentary Coming Soon (Trailer) Gabriel García Márquez Documentary Coming Soon (Trailer) Why I Can't Wait to See 'Crimson Peak,' Guillermo del Toro's Sumptuous Period Thriller (VIDEO) Why I Can't Wait to See 'Crimson Peak,' Guillermo del Toro's Sumptuous Period Thriller (VIDEO) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991 Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991

Media Watch: Waxman vs. Wolff and the Decline of Old Media

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 6, 2010 at 3:06AM

It's tough times in the media business, even for online start-ups.
1
Thompson on Hollywood

It's tough times in the media business, even for online start-ups.

On Sharon Waxman vs. Michael Wolff--Waxman accuses news aggregator Newser of stealing The Wrap's content without providing links and traffic-- my sympathies are with Waxman, even though The Wrap's junior writers have been known to repurpose others' reporting on occasion without links or credit, something that Waxman would not do (whenever I've brought it to her attention, she has always added the link).

In her post, Waxman's anxiety about traffic comes through loud and clear: "We're talking about survival here," she writes. But Wolff's condescending response--comparing her small-scale online trade with his large news aggregation site--isn't fair, argues the Village Voice, which covers the numbers.

Thompson on Hollywood

Point is, Wolff should not be defending these practices, he should be changing them. As an author with monthly magazine and book publishing deadlines, I wonder how close he is to the day-to-day practices of his site, which rewrites stories (much of them utter trash) without making the original links obvious; there's a "source" link over on the side. (Wolff admits he doesn't do the shortening.) In rising to his defense, Slate's Jack Shafer makes a strong case for the News Digest aspect of Newser while sliding over the Waxman point that he agrees with: burying links. I agree with Salon: Wolff's site is hastening the death of good journalism by pandering to the shortest-attention-span denominator.

I have never liked Newser, because I disapprove of their repurposing approach. Give me something clean with links to the original story (and writing and reporting), like Wopular, which updates automatically with RSS feeds. Why spend all that time and energy editing other people's copy?

These days, people don't hunt around for sites to find news; they're everywhere. It's about bringing the news into your Google Reader, Tweetdeck or email. New York Vulture and The Daily Beast are on the right track, and Waxman is learning the rules of the game, which are about building as much traffic with as little overhead and as much premium advertising as possible. On her side is the quality of her readers, if not the quantity.

Check out this November Charlie Rose interview with the ex-editor of The New York Observer, Peter Kaplan, who sees hope in the future when media goes mobile, but decries the demise of editors and quality journalism. As far as I'm concerned, Wolff is the Devil.

In magazine media, not surprisingly, a new report argues for innovation and experimentation. And the iPad is inspiring hope for news media--although others are less sanguine. Clay Shirky's argument about why complex models are doomed to fail is persuasive when applied to the media business:

Diller, Brill, and Murdoch seem be stating a simple fact—we will have to pay them—but this fact is not in fact a fact. Instead, it is a choice, one its proponents often decline to spell out in full, because, spelled out in full, it would read something like this:

“Web users will have to pay for what they watch and use, or else we will have to stop making content in the costly and complex way we have grown accustomed to making it. And we don’t know how to do that.”

Meanwhile, The New Yorker editor David Remnick seems to be surviving these turbulent times the same way that we all are: spending less, writing more.

This article is related to: Media


E-Mail Updates








Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.