Okay. You know how I said yesterday that I like performers to play what they want to play, and I want them to put together a set or a concert that’s interesting and good and worthwhile?
The same thing applies to other media. I’m just not particularly interested in journalism or fiction or theater that’s created solely to meet a commercial demand. I’m interested in stuff created to meet an artistic demand: art or writing or music created because it has something to say.
(I’m not averse to all popular things. That would be arbitrary and silly. If something is created from a genuine artistic impulse and becomes popular, then, well, that’s awesome.)
This morning I read the following in this article by Nicholas Spanger:
Most news organizations already use search-engine-optimization strategies to push their content on the web. Within five years… SEO and advanced metrics will play a prominent role in decisions about what to cover and how heavily to cover it, with reporters and stories graded by the number and value of the consumers they attract.
And I was scared. Because I recognize in that paragraph the same thing I’ve been thinking about. It’s the complete reversal of what drive quality news coverage or quality arts coverage. It would lead news to present nothing new, because the drive would be the anticipation of what people want rather than an honest look at what’s actually there and important.
The article continues, envisioning
…not so much a race to the bottom as a race to mediocrity, the “good-enough” that is all consumers may really want, which would mean the end of most quality journalism and the end of journalism as a middle-class profession.
Yup. Horrifying to contemplate, and depressing for those of us that love writing and reading the kind of coverage that’s becoming ever scarcer.
Thanks, Marilyn, for sending out that link. (That sounds sarcastic. It’s not: I’m glad to have read the article. I’m just depressed now. But don’t mind me.)