Call it jealousy or just a lament over the state of newspaper journalism but word around the campfire is that a great many people are upset about Jason Whitlock’s new Independent Thoughts column.
At first I was ready to simply mock the sports writer because of his lack of substance. However, I can’t help but notice that he’s generating a great deal of user participation via comments. Any one of Whitlock’s new civic minded columns easily outpaces interest in far more seasoned and well-informed journalists like Yael Abouhalkah. Seriously, Yael even tries to get bombastic like the big man but doesn’t get a single response.
So, what we can infer is that substance isn’t really important and Whitlock’s celebrity is far more important in drawing readers online — Which is the future of the dead tree industry if there is any at all.
So it’s not all gloom and doom.
In fact, a great many people in the know realize that the future of publishing the written word is going to work a lot more like TV than that stodgy old printed world of old.
In a world where hits and page counts rank are far more important than the amorphous concept of “influence,” Whitlock is poised to, pardon the pun, get even bigger. But we’re not there yet.
Read the big man’s stuff closely and it’s pretty obvious he’s just writing about stuff he saw on cable news. There’s not much new information or any kind of analysis that provides a really unique perspective. Whitlock is doing his shtick, masterfully employing the race card and even joking rather cleverly but it’s all essentially junk food for the op-ed section. Critics of Whitlock wonder if he’ll be able to cultivate sources outside of the realm of sports and do something just a tad more significant than react to the news.
I don’t really think it matters.
There will always be worker bees to maintain the bulk of information that goes into the media hive mind. Whitlock is showing us that facts, research and in-depth reporting are essentially meaningless. And he’s still making a bundle while doing it. It’s hard to argue with his logic.
The only bump in the road might be those pesky op-ed readers who expect something more than just bar talk from columnists. The anony d-bags from the Star who read KCC loyally to keep up with the adventures of Hearne know that threats of canceled subscriptions and a great many unhappy readers have recently taken aim at the Star’s most widely read target. Now it’s up to the institution to support their biggest hired gun. While I don’t put much faith in corporate group-think, I think most people realize that Whitlock and his enormous flock of followers and haters represent the future of dead tree media online, if there is any.