A bunch of serious news publications like Time, Huffington Post, the U.K.’s Daily Mirror, and the like got dragged in social media this week for their reporting on International Human Rights lawyer Amal Clooney’s International Women’s Day speech at the United Nations.
On Wednesday, Clooney, also famously known for her actor-director husband George Clooney, accompanied one of her clients, human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Yazidi genocide survivor, Nadia Murad to an important meeting in New York City.
During the meeting, titled “The Fight Against Impunity for Atrocities: Bringing Da’esh to Justice“, Amal gave a speech asking more be done to stop Da’esh, better known to Americans as ISIS, to prevent another Rwanda.
Rather than cover the very serious and substantive content of the first time mom-to-be of twins’ speech, those publications had articles that focused more on her baby bump and outfits.
As we’ve blogged a plenty before, the rules have changed in the digital and post-bump watch era and a lot of previously strict news sites have seamlessly encroached on salacious news and gossip territory.
The Atlantic cracked the code, in the case of Time magazine, anyway, and figured out Time is just keeping up with the new generation of readers. The outlet noted a few years ago:
Over the last two years, TIME’s digital audience has expanded dramatically, and close to half our readers are millennials. They are drawn not only to TIME’s coverage of the world but increasingly to TIME’s content on how to live a richer, smarter, more meaningful life—how to negotiate a raise, how to manage your inbox, how to actually unplug on vacation. It was, we discovered, millennial women who were most passionate and most engaged with that content, and they were looking for more.
So we’ve created Motto, a new platform from the editors of TIME dedicated to empowering the next generation. It’s about offering the advice and support to blaze new trails and redefine success in the fundamental aspects of our lives: how we work, play, and live (and you’ll see that we’ve organized the site around these three sections).
The Atlantic gets it, writing,
“We are living, at this point, in a new regime. A reality TV star is president. Teen Vogue is politics and policy. The Atlantic is covering the Kardashians. It is difficult—indeed, it is pretty much impossible—to find the line that divides politics from culture. Again: Convergence. Which isn’t a bad thing, necessarily—life is complicated and messy, and to divide its happenings into neat, newspapery columns was never fully true to that disarray—but it means that news organizations will need to be much more intentional about the way they present their stories to the public. It’s one thing for Entertainment Tonight to effuse about Amal Clooney’s baby bump. When Time does it, though—Time, which has spent years branding itself as a fairly straight-ahead summarizer of human events—the effusion will read as an insult, to Amal Clooney and to readers.
Yes, this may be The Atlantic covering itself here for getting into gossip news because clicks equal revenue and celebrity news sell.
All of digital media has to compete for the same eyeballs and cannot afford to leave any on the table…well er on the screen.
So we say lay off, though it would be in our best interest to not have to compete with established news organizations. (Ha!)