Jul 28, 2011

Failures In Journalism: Internet Traffic Is Not News

Warning: This may very easily become a recurring series.

The Fourth Estate is crumbling from the inside.  Long gone are the days of honest-to-god investigative reporting.  Woodward and Bernstein are not walking through that door.  Even though I tune in from time to time, I will forever maintain that the birth of 24 hour news was the death of actual journalism.  Despite what Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch would like you to believe, most days there just isn't enough happening in the world (worth talking about) to fill a non-stop broadcast schedule.  I also think that the Clinton-Lewinsky ordeal was the final straw.  Sensationalism and blowjobs draw higher ratings, (no kidding) and the Clinton scandal conclusively demonstrated that ratings, as opposed to actual journalistic standards, are the true endgame for cable news.  (Just ask my old journalism professor, who was fired from his producing job at an NBC news program for not reporting the Lewinksy story because, until matters of perjury were involved, he felt there were more important things going outside the president's pants.) 

Thus we are left with a non-stop barrage of "news" that is either focused on the basest elements of the world, (e.g. Casey Anthony, Terry Schaivo) the most crowd-pleasing fluff (ROYAL WEDDING!!!!) or completely irrelevant data used as filler.

Case in point: This little gem that CNN ran this morning.  I think the last few weeks worth of stoies about Google+'s increased membership and unique visitors was fairly annoying, but wholely understandable.  In terms of social media networks, Facebook pretty much laid waste to all their competitors and now reigns supreme as King of the Internet.  Google+ quickly emerged as a formidable competitor and, especially in light of the spectacular failure that was Google Buzz, the new site's success is absolutely newsworthy.

That being said, a minor dip in traffic is not news.  It's inevitable.  All websitese experience these kinds of fluctuations, and considering that Google+ is technically still in an invitation-only testing phase, a drop in traffic is even more predictable.

Is this what we have to look forward to?  Page hits reported like weekend box office numbers?  I certainly hope not.

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