Globe and Mail: Almost understanding teh Interwebs (progress!)

Credit where credit is due: After complaining a few weeks ago about Michael Valpy’s confusing story in the Globe and Mail on the political effects of Facebook, it’s nice to see Ivor Tossell’s spot-on critique of why Prime Minister Stephen Harper answering a few questions on YouTube is “not the future of democratic engagement” or “the evolution of social media,” no matter what the PMO says.

Too bad it’s paired with Roy MacGregor’s column, which is hugely enjoyable for its remarkable lack of self-awareness. His big concern is that, online:

what has come to matter more than anything else is the number of hits a certain story receives. The more hits means, in most cases, the larger the audience, and while reaching more readers and viewers is a good thing on one level, it is also a concern for those who believe journalism is about content and information more than reaction.

The potential result? A zero-sum, dystopian world in which quality journalism is strangled by the hobgoblins of celebrity gossip and partisan opinion masquerading as news. Because there’s no way that both can exist together online.

He singles out the tendency of online writers to use “hot button” words in headlines or far up in the story (maybe in the first paragraph!) in order to attract readers.

Imagine that: publishers, editors and writers choosing stories, many of dubious social value, in which they think people are interested, and then packaging those stories and writing headlines in such a way as to grab potential readers’ attention.

Readers are invited to explain how this is any different from, I don’t know, the workings of any general-interest newspaper ever.

(h/t: Susan Delacourt for pointing out the two columns.)

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1 Response to Globe and Mail: Almost understanding teh Interwebs (progress!)

  1. DieHard says:

    My question: Mr. Harper: your campaign seems to have the momentum of a runaway freight train. Why are you so popular?

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