Dugan Arnett is the Boston Globe’s latest “solution” for a problem that has plagued newspapers for decades: attract younger readers. I know, I was once one of those solutions, given a column a a newspaper trying to attract Gen X readers long before I had earned a column.
Here’s what I imagine is a typical day in Arnett’s life, based on his latest piece of front-page drivel in today’s Globe.
Step One: “Reporting”
Come up with some random observation, and then, because it’s happening to you, assume it is a trend and, therefore, “newsworthy.” In this case, Dugan heard some Christmas music in November and did a Google search to confirm his suspicion: Christmas music in November is a problem!
Journalism 101 tip: Google searches will confirm any bias you have if you search hard enough.
From there, post some nonsense like this on the Globe Subscriber Facebook group, which includes 3,400 people who have totally sipped the broadsheet’s Kool-Aid:
Hi Globe subscribers! I’m looking for Christmas music enthusiasts — those who beginning listening well before Thanksgiving (despite any eye-rolling from friends and family members). If you fit the bill, I’d love to chat for a story. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step Two: “Interviewing”
Email back-and-forth with the sad sacks that have nothing better to do than respond until you have something resembling quotes you might procure in a “real” — or as Dugan would say”IRL” — interview.
Get quotes from people like Jamie Quinn. Real incisive shit like “I’m just really into Christmas music.”
Step Three: “Writing”
From there, over-write that bitch. Because, you are, after all, a millennial and you are the story. Or so your mom and dad told you. So you’re allowed to write crap like:
- Is there anything that can summon the Scrooges quicker than early-onset Christmas music?
- Most autumnal carol lovers seem to have been simply born with a little extra noel in their blood, but some come to it quite by accident, surprising even themselves.
- That some aren’t quite ready to join in the rum-pa-pum-pumming isn’t exactly surprising, particularly when the holiday season seems to begin earlier each year.
Do they no longer teach brevity and active voice at the Missouri School of Journalism?
Is Arnett’s piece totally pointless? Probably not. But for a paper that is cutting newsroom jobs and leading the pack with cries of “we’re doing more with less” in contemporary print journalism, this doesn’t exactly seem like a good deployment of resources.
Read it for yourself. Explain to me why this belongs on the front page of the newspaper of record and I’ll eat that front page.