The following article was one of the more entertaining editorials in a series (the Beat from the Editor’s seat) that I did when I started as editor-in-chief of the school paper. I created the column to encourage transparency, as well as provide a platform for discussing media issues with our audience.
Articles headlining popular movies or albums have been getting the most hits on The Lamron website for a long time, but a few weeks ago, the Video Music Awards write-up showed up even the most interesting reviews. Why? It was wearing a meat dress.
That’s right, the article titled “Meat dress seasons banal VMA ceremony” generated 1,749 of that week’s 4,728 views; over a third of our online traffic was directed at that one article. While it is no surprise left-out meat has attracted a buzz, this was no fluke, folks. Last week’s top hits were a “True Blood” review and a criticism of media glutton Terry Jones.
The term “buzz word” has been around for a handful of years now, but it seems to have taken on new life recently, probably because of the increased pressure on publications like newspapers and magazines, which rely on advertising to pay the bills. In sum, eyes on the page (Web or paper) equal cash for ads. If this is the case, maybe we need to take a hint from Lady GaGa and other celebrities who tout their bodies and absurdities to rake in the dough.
Obviously, this leads to the question of what the responsibility of a newspaper is to begin with. Are we here to entertain? To make money? Or, as perhaps I am idealistic in thinking, can we do some kind of service and provide information and understanding?
Luckily, The Lamron is in the distinct position of being funded by our college’s Student Association, which has thus far unfailingly supported us in making sure that our paper gets printed each Thursday. While we strive for and are expected to meet certain benchmarks in advertising revenue, those expectations aren’t unmanageable goals.
The Lamron will probably never incorporate boobs into the masthead (although check out one of our latest tweets for a good laugh about that), but as you may have guessed, we, like the bigger newspapers facing serious threats, must wear a new hat: one in which we cater to the needs, wants and whims of our consumers.
While we are not absolving ourselves of our duty to avoid publishing complete trash, the fact of the matter is that some responsibility falls on our readers to dictate the content that we, in effect, are selling to you. This is an important practice in what will be a real-world application for all of us some day.
“You are what you eat,” so to speak. So you if you want the meat dress, we’ll grill it up and serve it to you. But don’t be surprised when our culture’s new diet leaves us rotten.