Okay, so, The New York Observer for some reason thought it’d be a good idea to put this Ryan Holiday assclown’s pieces on their site. Maybe Gell was like: Hey, let’s troll everyone while we decide whether or not to keep the media desk, and then decided to keep him on after that. I don’t know. Holiday is an infuriating person (with a stupid name) if only because there are at least one or two people who take him and his shitty book seriously, as somebody who is ostensibly “disrupting” the media industry by writing about it as if he ever actually did anything of substance in it.
He’s about as credible as a morning radio DJ who makes a few successful prank calls to the New York Times and points to that as evidence of his ability to subvert the media. And while I think a fake Modern Love story is as funny as the next guy, I don’t think it makes you anything more than someone who’s crafty enough to get a fake Modern Love story in the Times (which I don’t think Holiday is talented or creative enough to do, regardless).
How do you know anybody with a brain takes him seriously? you ask, maybe. Or maybe you just know that there are people absurd enough in the world to take Brietbart or Glenn Beck or whichever conservative fuckface seriously so maybe you assume that this cognitive dissonance would transfer to mediapolitik snake oil salesmen, and you’d be right.
But for our purposes, here, I should point out that I know this is the case for a fact, because a friend from a major ad and marketing agency just forwarded me an all-agency email in which Ryan Holiday’s piece is quoted. Because I love my friend and because she respects journalists and is not a hacky flack—and I know wonderful people who work in marketing and publicity and advertising, who don’t take the idea of people in that business as “creatives” as anything less than absurd, who are respectful to journalists, who understand that their function is sometime terribly inorganic (they’re like Germans who were sympathetic to Jews in the Third Reich, you can’t blame them for being German, especially if they’re hiding them some Jew)—I’m not going to reprint that email here, suffice to say, she probably didn’t expect the rant emails I sent her back, one of which I’ve printed here. Sorry for the lack of context, but you can only fucking imagine what was on the other end.
One of my responses went like this:
You do NOT want me going off on this. There are so many false assumptions about this shit it’s absurd.
1. People don’t get their news from brands, nor do they trust them past the point of selling them whatever shitty product they’re being sold.
2. The idea that people in New York has “just” “discovered” “pageview journalism” is so blithe it makes me want to tear my face off and give it to someone else to wear.
3. “Pageview journalism” doesn’t exist as he tells it. There are not Shylock-esque figures telling reporters to bring them back nut grafs that will earn them x-amount of impressions or else it’s a slice off their thigh. There’s journalism, and there’s tabloid journalism, and then there’s pageview bait. They’re not always mutually exclusive, but for the most part, you’re never going to see a serious journalism operation tell its reporters to go out and get pageviews. That’s not their job. They’re more likely to just shut down or keep losing money until they figure out how to make it. Pageviews are the job of a business development person, or even, maybe, an editor working headlines, if it’s like that. Generally, it’s a journalist’s job to go out and get news that people would want to read because they’re interesting. “Boring” news might be a casualty of contemporary media economics, but the news cycle that matters? It’s always going to be driven by interest, that thing that provides eyes, and not the eyes themselves. If journalism were really driven by pageviews, the New York Times would just be called THE BIG-TITTED AMATEUR TEEN PUSSY COCKSLUT TRIBUNE DAILY, and it’d be a series of pop-up ads that lead you to a gif of a cat puking out a dog. And Buzzfeed is crass, but even it’s not that crass.
4. People don’t want to read whatever dumbfuckery brands would like them to read. In fact, people would like to read about the dumbfuckery that brands are trying to inflict on them, which is why journalism is still a viable job.
5. Here’s a good example of what the aforementioned assclown is actually talking about: Let’s say I write a feature about Makeup Product X. The company that made Makeup Product X has millions of followers on their Facebook page. If they throw my story up on their Facebook page, guess what I get? Pageviews. But who the fuck writes anything of importance about makeup products in market features? That’s not journalism, that’s the cock-grabby reacharound relationship people who write about things uncritically and marketing/publicity machines have always held, except now it’s more literalized than ever. But to confuse that with journalism—or to confuse Holiday as someone whose broad proclamations about repackaged ideas are even remotely credible—is the kind of thing that would make every serious journalist in America want to be the hungry rat who shoves itself up whatever client or brand’s ass you might represent who eats it from the inside-out until there’s nothing left.
This lying motherfucker makes me want to break shit.
Very few things actually upset me.
This, as you might be able to tell, is one of them.