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What Makes for a Good, Monocle-Free Trend Piece?

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If you obsessively follow journalists on Twitter each evening (and you really should), then you probably noticed many of them passing this New York Times ”monocles are back” trend piece around last night along with a moderate dose of mockery.

Yep, that’s the one.

We certainly won’t criticize writer Allan Salkin, whose work is obviously more newsworthy than most posts written by trade bloggers (ahem). But let’s be honest: the story only exists due to the commentary of Warby Parker founder David Gilboa, who provided just the sort of quote needed to tell editors “hey, this brand is hip so this story is hip—and it’s trending!”

Gilboa notes that some chefs have bought monocles from his company to help them read recipes in the kitchen and that a certain super-trendy restaurant with a certain super-trendy bar that may or may not have a brilliant two-sentence NYMag review that you should totally read uses monocles to help diners read its menu in low light.

Now add a no-name rapper desperate for attention and a dude who runs a specialty store selling monocles online, and you’ve got yourself a trend piece. It might surprise you to learn that the Times has run several of these monocle-friendly stories over the past 120 years.

OK. Compare that article to this one, published in today’s paper. It’s all about how wearable tech is getting sleeker and more fashionable—or everything Google Glass is not. Here’s the video:

Great publicity for Shine, Tory Burch and Jawbone, despite some light criticism.

Of course everyone would like to place a quote in The New York Times, and the monocle piece does reaffirm Warby Parker’s status as experts in all things eyewear, no matter how ridiculous.

So this is a question of value: if your client, by chance, happened to stock a monocle, would you pitch it to the Times for a story like that one?

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