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Archives: February 2005

Consumer Reports and endism?

(We were going to title this post “Is Consumer Reports dead or is Michael Wolff a jerk?” but we’ve been leveled with charges of journalistic nihilism before and we’re reluctant to keep reinforcing Shafer’s point…Well, somewhat reluctant.) At any rate…

Wired EIC Chris Anderson is writing a blog about a book he’s writing, based on this article. At the moment, he’s fixated on a quote by Michael Wolff in the disappeared IWantMedia article from last week’s edition of FishbowlNY:

WOLFF: Well, I think Consumer Reports at one time was the brand in product evaluation. That’s what you would say: “Check Consumer Reports.” But if you want to buy something now, it’s “Check the Web.” It’s not that Consumer Reports doesn’t have a business, but it has certainly lost its position as the grail of product evaluation.

Anderson’s theory:

There are three kind of people, which being a science geek, I will describe in physics terms (that noise is the sound of a readership stampeding for the exits):

A) Position People
B) Velocity People (first derivative)
C) Acceleration People (second derivative)

Category A people think: “4 million subscribers is a lot. Consumer Reports must be doing something right.”

Category B people think: “It used to be 4.2 million. Consumer Reports is in decline.”

Category C people think: “They lost 200,000 readers in three years! Consumer Reports is dead.”

Now I should quickly add that I have no idea if Consumer Reports is indeed losing readers; I just made those figures up for illustrative purposes (and to add to the evidence that blogs are not journalism)…the third, which is clearly false, is the one that gets all the attention. People are drawn to grand overstatement, especially if it’s in service of a broader point.

The pinnacle of grand overstatement is endism, the declaration that the moment something stops growing it is effectively dead. In this, Wolff is in good company…The reason endism is not necessarily a sin is that all three of those perspectives are legitimate.

We get endism, but we’re more well-versed in trendism, which is sort of the opposite. Growth indicates that something is over, and therefore, effectively dead. This happens most frequently in fashion—see ponchos, trucker hats, and soon, if we’re lucky, Ugg boots (which should have been over two years ago)—but also in entertainment, media, etc. If we’re wrong about this, we’d imagine that there are hundreds of thousands of column inches of intellectually dishonest “In/Out” charticles in American magazines that need to be abolished permanently. (You don’t want to have to fill that space with actual reportage, do you? Then just admit we’re right.)

One commenter adds:

Wow, did you miss an opportunity. Consider:

A) Position People
B) Velocity People (first derivative)
C) Acceleration People (second derivative)

should have been followed by:

D) Jerks (third derivative)

I’m not making it up. That’s the name for the third derivative of position. The name for the fourth is inauguration.

In defense of endism [The Long Tail]

Evans: Let The Kid Stay in The Picture

evans.jpgDrudge has posted a rambling screed from Robert Evans defending his chum Michael Eisner from the overthrow attempt orchestrated by Roy Disney. He calls Eisner “the single most competitive, cunning, cantankerous, calculating, creative visionary that this hybrid industry/art form has possibly ever dealt with.” He also, wait for it, compares Roy Disney to Adolf Hitler:

Allowing the exploitive PR industry to bend our thinking in praise of a witless Roy Disney as a replacement to the brilliance of a Michael Eisner is somewhat reminiscent of Goebels[sic] propagating the heroics of Adolf Hitler.

So, in Evans’s view, Disney=Hitler. The PR industry=Goebbels. Eisner=uh, Field-Marshal von Hindenburg? Bad analogy, Robert. Bad, bad analogy. (Full disclosure: I believe I own two shares of Disney stock, a Bar Mitzvah gift from my Uncle Irving.)

Blogging for fun and profit

Along these lines, a reader sends in the following:

Saw some frazzled, knitting bag-toting, middleaged Brooklyn lady reading a pamphlet on the uptown 2 this AM: “Blogging for Profit.” Key section: “Fame and Fortune.” Key do’s/don’ts: “Never, ever slander a person, business, or service!” and my favorite, “Get Links!”

We’d really like to get our hands on a copy of that pamphlet. If anyone has one, do send. Email and we’ll give you a mailing address.

Blogging: the new Amway. We always knew it’d come to this.

Seduced by the Art Direction

suede.jpgSpeaking of not taking long, Suede magazine has shut down after only four issues. From AdAge:

“We knew this wasn’t sustainable,” said Michelle Ebanks, group publisher of Essence and Suede. “It was consuming more time and resources than we thought [it would require] to get to a level of equilibrium.”

We’ll be the first to admit that we didn’t really see that one coming. (But it was so pretty! And Suzanne Boyd was going to be the next Anna Wintour!)

Guess we can put this on eBay now.

Doug Wead caves

Doug Wead Pic.jpgWell, that didn’t take long, did it? As we predicted, someone’s been leaning on Judas Iscariot-of-the-moment Doug Wead, who has suddenly had a change of heart about leaking the Bush tapes to the Times. He’s cancelled a Hardball appearance and wants to give back the tapes, the cash, the whole thing.

Hate to say Fishbowl told you so, Doug, but this is only the beginning of The Treatment. Time for plastic surgery and plane tickets to countries whose names you can’t pronounce.

Attack of the KCRW Pod People

LAObserved reports that KCRW will make several of its more popular shows available as podcasts, which one can download straight to one’s Rio Karma. (Or one’s Ipod, but I thought it was time that another Mp3 player got some press.) I’m hoping they release an anthology podcast of their pledge drives compiled by theme: ‘Most Urgent Ruth Seymour Last-Minute Pleas’, ‘Oddest Challenge Matching Grants’, ‘Anecdotes About How The Fringe Benefits Card Has Changed The DJ’s Life’, etc.

Brinkley takes charge of HST Legacy, Inc.

brinkley42.jpgNice to see someone not wasting any time. Instant Hunter S. Thompson family spokesman Doug “just add water” Brinkley, who we told you here was jetting to Aspen with dispatch to get at least as much ink as the Doc, today tells the world that HST’s suicide was planned, and was not the result of a moment’s desperation.

Fishbowl would rather you shut up about it, actually, Doug, and let the man have his funeral. Who in the world cares what you think, even if Thompson did plan it? There are ways to insert oneself into a grief process. This is not one of them. And, by the way, that HST magic moon dust you hope will rub off on you? It won’t.

East Coast vs. West Coast – the IM War

When one is IMing a Los Angeles media professional and one types something deemed amusing, the response tends to be ‘lol.’ But when one performs the same linguistic operation to an East Coast communicant in the same professional cohort, the response is always ‘hahaha’ or ‘heheh.’ What to make of this schism? Are Angelenos more comfortable with claiming (well, pretending) that they’re “laughing out loud” while New Yorkers have an idiomatic tendency towards ironic quasi-onomatopoeia? Expect a full analysis of this issue on the next slow news day.

Russell Crowe, Indie Rock Nerd

If you only read one trashy piece of celebrity puffery in the line at Ralph’s this month, read the Russell Crowe interview in the new GQ, in which Crowe endears himself to that important taste-making demographic, pudgy rock critics in their late thirties. (Watch out, John Cusack.)

A lot of people seem to think, This stuff is one big selling machine, so chill out.

I absolutely have – in my mind, in my heart, in my being – the credibility required to be a serious artist, as laid down by NME in 1976. That’s what I fucking believe in, and I’ll never change.

What sort of stuff inspired you in that era?

Individual artists? Elvis Costello. The Pistols-but the Pistols was just a laugh.

I don’t think it seemed like a laugh at the time. I don’t know if you’re being wise after the event. It was a laugh, but it mattered, too.

[nods] It really mattered. It really mattered… And Sham 69, the Only Ones’ “Another Girl, Another Planet,” the Buzzcocks…

Elsewhere in the interview Crowe discusses Al Qaeda’s purported plan to kidnap him, which the FBI took seriously enough to assign him a security detail — “it was about taking iconographic Americans out of the picture as a sort of cultural-destabilization plan.”

A genuinely strange movie star interview.

Halbfinger: He Likes Us, He Really Really Likes Us

halb.jpgMy sister site FishbowlNY links to this Observer piece profiling David Halbfinger, who will be sharing the New York Times Hollywood beat with Sharon Waxman in this post-Weinraub era. Choice quote:

“As much as people warned me about this town, I think I actually like this kind of person – the movie person.”

Whom exactly does Halbfinger refer to by the term ‘movie person?’ I didn’t realize that the entire industry was composed of one kind of person.