Publishers just want clicks and Facebook took my baby

Publishers just want clicks and Facebook took my baby

Logo of the ACCC

Journalism is a doomed industry, right? And Google and Facebook control all our publishing.

Not so fast, sunshine. There are some really good reasons why journalists are being let go. One of those reasons was spelled out beautifully by one of our subscribers, who replied to me about the Hayne Royal Commission:

… it is just that human beings (some) are greedy.

By which I mean that if you think news publishers aren’t chasing clicks, you’ve got a hole in your head.

‘Traditional publishers’ are publishers of newspapers. They hold a position in society that ought to be for the public’s good, apparently. (If you look at how Buzzfeed influences major media in the USA, or you have read Ryan Holiday’s Trust Me, I’m Lying, you’ll know this is mostly pixie poop and an urban myth we’ve all grown up with.)

When the chair of the ACCC came out this week and told us that news media is struggling to pay for journos, he gave me – a staunch anti-Facebook and increasingly anti-Google person – good reason to choke on my warm milk. 

Missing from his speech was any consideration of revenue models. 

He took the media+advertising duo as something that is a fixed object. Instead of thinking about maybe this is why news publishers chase clicks instead of investigative journalism, he chose to assume that it’s just a fact. 

Then, given it’s a fact, clearly Facebook and Google are to blame for the lack of journo jobs.

Missing from his speech was any consideration of what audiences are interested in consuming. He assumed that news is something that people want to read.

Missing from his speech was a query about whether or not news publishers are producing anything of quality. He simply assumed that a journalist = quality by default. (It doesn’t, by the way.)

They are the same assumptions that businesses make when they publish, too. 

Here’s a list of assumptions they make:

  • that their world is something people want to read about, even though they haven’t defined their audiences anywhere near closely enough.
  • that focusing on SEO instead of needs is better, because they’re more interested in gaining clicks instead of serving their audiences.
  • that they are the right people to write their material, just because they know the industry. In fact, it is nearly always not the case. 

Interrogating this stuff is the same way I approach questions from business owners about Facebook.

Here’s a (true) example:

‘Because that’s where everyone is,’ one said to me recently.

‘Are they?’ I asked. ‘What’s your market?’

‘Doctors and lawyers,’ he replied.

I was blunt. ‘Are they sitting on the internet scrolling through Facebook all day?’

The look of dawning freedom on his face was priceless. 

‘Nobody’s ever asked me whether it’s necessary!’ he exclaimed ecstatically.

‘They just tell me to do it!’ 

Just because everyone is doing the same thing, it doesn’t mean that it’s right, correct, or true.

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got a multi-million-dollar budget like News Corp, or a $400 budget like the florist up the road. 

What matters is relevance and quality, and solving the right problem.

Which is a perfect segue into why case studies are the perfect piece of content. 

They are deeply relevant to your prospects, especially when they’re also high quality (thus answering every question your prospects want answered before they buy).

Go find out why savvy professional services businesses use case studies when they want to be trusted by their prospects.

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Leticia Mooney

The Brutal Pixie is Leticia Mooney. Race: Eladrin, Class: Publisher. --- Leticia is Australia's foremost authority on publishing in a business context. She ghostwrites for, and advises, entrepreneurial individuals in the professional services.

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