Like many writers and bloggers who reside in the ‘new’ or ‘alternative’ media universe, I regularly glance at a variety of mainstream websites, sometimes just for laughs and sometimes to see what sort of pablum they are feeding the gullible masses. In the past few months, almost every mainstream media (MSM) site that I look at has undergone a design update. Perhaps not coincidentally, all of them now look exactly the same. Actually, we know it’s not a coincidence, since all of the dinosaur media are owned by a small handful of corporations.
Websites such as business insider, the weather channel, CNN, sfgate, and many more have adopted a design template that can only be described as bizarre and schizophrenic. Ever since the old news organizations, i.e. The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fox etc. belatedly and grudgingly started websites and started putting energy and resources into their online presence, they have struggled to find an identity. The old newspaper design, with a front page, a business section, sports section, weather, and comics didn’t translate well onto a webpage. What to do? The dinosaur newsrooms weren’t exactly bursting with creative types and savvy web designers, and they still aren’t. Basically, most of these organizations just tried to keep as much of the old format as possible. Instead of using this changeover to digital media as an opportunity to rethink the entire model, which in fact was long overdue, they simply made their websites to look as similar as possible to a newspaper.
In recent months, word must have come down from high above to shake things up a bit. The dinosaur media are continually losing viewership and readers and they will try to do anything to be relevant. Sadly, this is yet another case of putting lipstick on a pig. These organizations are so woefully out of touch, so removed from relevance and even reality itself, that no design change is going to save them.
They are now all using a white background and attaching large, color rectangular photos to most stories. As you scroll down the site, anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of the screen is taken up with photos. Stories are rarely introduced without an accompanying photo. Headline writing has undergone a dramatic change in the last two years. Whereas in the old days, headlines were used to give the reader a basic summary of the article’s contents, nowadays they are used as ‘teasers,’ and are often phrased not as statements, but as questions. Common headlines now begin with phrases such as “You won’t believe..” and “Can you guess…”
Taking their cues from travel sites, the MSM throw around words like ‘amazing,’ ‘incredible,’ ‘stunning,’ and ‘awesome,’ with careless abandon. They are trying their best to debase these words completely, and in many respects already have.
Stories are juxtaposed without rhyme or reason. So-called hard news, soft news, trivia, sports, weather, gossip, advice, restaurant reviews, real estate tips and much , much more are assembled in a mishmash fashion. The reader can scroll endlessly through hundreds of stories before coming to the bottom of the page. The MSM is trying to be all things to all people by throwing putty against the wall and hoping that something sticks. Lots and lots of photos, catchy but inane headlines, a wide variety of stories written at a third grade level and and a hip facade are just some of their tactics.
Want to find out what’s happening in the business world and get some ‘insider’ tips? Well, don’t go to www.businessinsider.com. Here are the top stories today: ‘Solar eclipse 2015- the best photos from across Europe…’ The 30 most eligible men and women in San Francisco’….’48 tips on becoming more powerful’…and ‘The best pizza in every state.’ That’s just a sampling from the first page. What the hell does this site have to do with business? What a joke. It’s all fluff, inanity, and distraction, filled with lots of celebrity name-dropping. Nutrition-less mind candy. But hey, the site looks really cool!
The mainstream media, aka the dinosaur media, aka the zombie, living-dead media are an embarrassment. They have no shame, no scruples, and no integrity. They continue to insist on their relevance, long after they have been thoroughly discredited.