The problem with the content rush is twofold. First, no one — and I mean no one — can possibly be an expert in all the things they’re attempting to cover. Good writers in the space may know one company inside and out. Great writers may know two. The very best may know enough about three or four companies/topics to be an authoritative writer on them.
And yet, we often see bloggers writing 7 posts a day about 7 different companies and/or topics. And people read these stories as if they’re definitive posts full of insightful information. Ha. Most of them are bullshit.
Second, because the emphasis is on speed, even if a writer does know a lot about a company/topic, that takes a backseat. Writing a bland story with a few facts in 5 minutes is valued much higher than writing a good story in an hour. And that’s valued much higher than writing a great story over the period of a few days or god-forbid, weeks.
I hear over and over again things like, “did you read that post on FILL-IN-THE-BLANK-BLOG? — Interesting, huh?” No, it wasn’t interesting, it was bullshit. That author had no fucking idea what they were talking about. They probably wrote it in 20 minutes and never thought about it again. If you asked the author about it now, they probably wouldn’t even remember half of what they wrote.
Just because a writer’s words appear on a popular site, people seem to think they are sterling bastions of sacred information. They’re not. They’re human beings that may not even know as much about a topic as you do. Whatever they do know, they probably know from reading one or two other posts by another writer who learned about the topic from reading one or two other posts.
Bloggers informing bloggers all the way down.
You cannot be an authority on 20 different topics. You just can’t. But people are trying to convey that they are. And there’s often a perception that they are. And this horribly broken system works from the perspective of the pageview machine.
Unfortunately, I ultimately agree with Siegler. Where he sees the ‘pageview machine’ as the culprit, I would point the finger to the erosion of traditional journalistic practices – like sourcing, forced disclosure of financial connections, and peer editing/review.
What’s even more alarming, is these trends seem equally as applicable to the political sphere – a stern focus on the lowest commopn denominator, the quick soundbyte, the headlines-grabbing phrase that really conveys very little about policy or a substantial thought process.
But I’m more optimistic – I think the trend he’s referring to is akin to what happens with tabloids; they will always be there, nagging your eye at the supermarket checkout line, but over time, people have learned easily enough not to trust the sensational. I agree that the line in blogging is often blurred, far moreso than the line between true journalism and yellow journalism, but I think eventually the market will begin to favor trustworthy content and sourcing as the most newsworthy trait any publication can have.