No one cares about your staff writers.
The latest evolution in churnalism is the staff listicle, it is boring.
This is a McRib. It offers an interesting way to use what is at hand.
Writing a message on a piece of paper to be featured in a selfie was at one time a meaningful image vernacular. The decidedly low technology approach to image making was more authentic, more grounded than text laid over an image. Little did we know when this sort of image production became popular that the interface of Snapchat would soon bring automated text layer production to the masses. Thus the era of hand drawn signs ends, right?
No, not by a long shot. Now the combination of low end production aesthetics and stale quasi-authenticity have become the stock and trade of Buzzfeed, that Deleuzian aesthetic super-ego machine. That is literally what Buzzfeed is. Jonah Peretti is a published Deleuzian. Look it up. Buzzfeed is the sum of all the schizo-analytic rhizomatic refigurations of the social. In short, a panel of staff writers for an online pulp site is a great resource for making banks of images that are seemingly interesting. You already employ the people, you can photograph them as you like. Picture essays work well with social network algorithms. A perfect storm.
Roughly one year ago, the fake roundtable became a featured form of pseudo-longform writing. Why yes, I believe that you and your friends are speaking in long, verbose paragraphs. Much like how Loreli is a real mother or that any President would have a Bartlett-esque speech at the ready. Presidents are tired. So tired. The general idea is that if you were to record the conversation among these three super interesting people it might make for good reading. It doesn’t. It might if your friends were famous, and no, other internet famous long form fake conversationalists don’t reflexively count. These essays started to fade because they would take a very long time construct and they are terrible to read. The bounce rate was surely quite high. What the image list does is present an alternative, it is not difficult to read or difficult to make.
An image listicle featuring a pad of paper could easily be produced in a matter of minutes with a DSLR camera, pad of paper, one marker, and a staff. Now this presumes that someone cares about the staff. I don’t. Why should I care what people who professionally dredge Reddit think about anything? Should I want to see their poorly done ‘data journalism’ or is the lure their lack of fact checking? Has Buzzfeed become such a thing in itself that to compile a listicle for them makes one famous to the point of being the object of many para-social relationships?
No. Soon the staff writer listicle will fade and a new attempt at bulk content creation will bubble up. In the mean time, this reduction from the fake conversation to the staff pic-listicle only emphasizes that if a media strategy is to hinge on ethos (credibility) or even merely interest one must deploy some of either.