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The new new thing in media career paths

Posted by Christopher Shea  July 7, 2010 11:03 AM

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The New York writer Emily Gould, who made her name by ginning up traffic for the traffic-obsessed site Gawker, takes to Slate to condemn a Gawker Media-owned blog, Jezebel, for ... ginning up traffic. Jezebel, Gould says, works hard to push the buttons of feminists, in order to generate page clicks and thereby--avert your eyes, squeamish readers--increase ad revenue. Previously Gould bared details of her life on a personal blog, then wrote a magazine piece and a book lamenting that she had done so.

Gould, in other words, is already well along a path previously taken by Lee Siegel, the literary critic who became notorious for praising his own work for the New Republic via an online "sock puppet." This, naturally, earned him a book contract that allowed him to complain at length that the Internet encouraged people to indulge their worst tendencies.

Job opportunities for journalists may be evaporating, but let it not be said that the Web has not produced new career niches.

I don't have a name for this niche. (Suggestions, readers?) But the trick, it seems to me, is that you have to be earnest and excessive in your early "misdeeds," so that your later mea culpa passes the laugh test. If the early misdeeds are fake or half-hearted, the subsequent 180-degree turn will come off as overly calculated and people won't buy it. But if you come out of the gate all earnest and high-minded, devoid of meretriciousness early in your career--well, good luck with that!

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