Lichen Frittata

Post Angst

Posted in Uncategorized by lichenfrittata on August 5, 2009
Dazed and confused.

Dazed and confused.

Is Columbia Heights full of hipsters? Sure, there are a few. Do they find Target convenient, while also feeling uncomfortable with its mall-like newness? Some of them, certainly. Is this dynamic, perhaps a topic of discussion over a bottle of three-buck chuck, worthy of news coverage? According to the Washington Post, yes indeed!

If this story were just a one-off anomaly, I would roll my eyes and move on: Oh WaPo, trying to show off the fact that you know what hipsters are–even “quasi-hipsters” and “post-hipsters,” as if all white people in gentrifying neighborhoods fell on a continuum of more or less hipster–and have an edgy reporter who understands their ways. But a week ago, there was this story, in which the Post reveals that people like to work in coffeeshops rather than offices, terming the demographic “digital nomads.” Zeitgesity! And then, in a stunning waste of newsprint, reporter Ian Shapira is given some 2,000 words to whine about a profile of his that Gawker linked to and summarized, which Shapira complains was a rip-off of his reporting.

Now, Gawker’s response was typically snotty and triumphal. And yes, it bothers me when aggregation outlets sell ads against content reprinted from newspapers. But the key thing is that the Post probably benefits more from the traffic Gawker drives over there with every link. Page views are not a zero sum game; it’s not like Gawker is taking ad revenues away from the newspaper. You’ll rarely see the New York Times complain about this kind of thing, at least using their own valuable real estate–they’ve made peace with the blogosphere in a way the Post seems unable to do.

Perhaps the most egregious example of this is Dana Milbank and Chris Cilizza’s utterly un-funny attempt at web video, in which Milbank even outdid his latest childish snit. Andy Cobb perfectly captured the frat boy idiocy of the whole endeavor, and also articulated exactly what’s at the heart of this rash of strangely strained stories: The Post can’t figure out what the internet wants.

WaPo, you’re my hometown paper now. Please stop trying to simultaneously be Gawker and getting mad at Gawker for being itself. What was wrong with just covering the news anyway?

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