By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 21, 2009 at 7:27AM
The new metric in journalism is online traffic. While the movie stars may not pull them in at the boxoffice like they used to, write a story about a star, and the traffic will come.
It didn't matter if Lions for Lambs sucked: Time still ran a story about Cruise, Redford and Streep. And this week the august New York Times ran a feature about overweight movie stars pegged to Russell Crowe's State of Play weight gain. New York's Vulture and the LAT's The Big Picture swiftly blogged back--adding a photo of Crowe's streamlined new look for Robin Hood.
The Daily Beast editrix Tina Brown cannily harnessed the traffic spike potential of Michelle Obama (is she "the new Oprah?" trumpeted her headline) and Susan Boyle in her weekly column. More than 30 million YouTube views later, why did the beetle-browed Britain's Got Talent singer hit the zeitgeist with such force? Because of Google Trends.
That's right. The new journalist m.o.: check out the most-searched item of the day. One new website is devoted to that very purpose. Every morning, EPK (not "electronic press kit" but, "Everything Pop Kulture") assigns its (low-paid) writers to report on the searches of the day, insuring heavy traffic. This methodology is widespread across the Web, insuring that what has already been written about today will be repeated, commented upon and enlarged tomorrow. Expect more on the following topics in days to come:
1. megan mcallister
2. philip markoff wedding
3. five dollar dinners
4. julie chen
5. daniel andreas san diego
6. baby mammoth
7. philip markoff megan mcallister
8. ben and jerry s locations
9. william parente
10. craigslist killer
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out a way for today's beleaguered journalists to stay employed. Forget about that Pulitzer. Don't pass Go. Find that celebrity hook or hot trend. Fast.