How to murder media in 2017

I prefer a simpler approach to talking about media in 2017: We’re. Fucked. Because. We. Won’t. Change.

I’m calling bullshit. Here’s a list of instructions on how to murder media in 2017, framed by similar points that I first delivered at a workshop organized by the Open Society Foundations in Cape Town earlier this month.


  • Keep talking about your page views. More page views mean more ads. So pretend that page views equate to more money and higher brand value. Obsess over getting more clicks and reach.
  • Programmatic ad buying means you’ll always have an ad running on your pages no matter how shitty the creatives look. Don’t even start to think what that’s costing your brand. Tell yourself it’s out of your control.
  • Drive the belief that metrics are gospel truth since quality journalism is just too damn hard to measure. Tell yourself that this is the best way to measure performance of your team and bring out the best in them.
  • Tell yourself that content is all that matters. After all, every single conference is still telling you that content is king, even in 2016. Do not get distracted by trendy shit like UI and UX. People want great stories.
  • Ignore the comments section. They’re things said by stupid people. Unless of course it’s someone saying something nice. Maybe shut it down altogether since you don’t have time or money to build a proper community around it.
  • Spend time and money going “live” on Facebook because live video is all the rage. Anyone can put something up and everyone will watch it.
  • Don’t bother trying to learn about the people who actually use your product. Don’t bother with polls, surveys or face-to-face interactions. Your users are just page views or unique views to you. The people don’t matter. Just the numbers.
  • Chase the same stories that your rivals are covering because you think you’re unique. It doesn’t matter if you’re all showing up to the same press conference and leaving with the same soundbite and headshot. You’re special because you showed up.
  • Keep telling everyone that you have an “exclusive” interview. There’s no way that newsmaker would have said the same thing to anyone else. You got that interview because you’re so fucking amazing and that’s why people should watch you.
  • Gloat over the beauty of your desktop site. Spend more time and resources on it. Throw all the bells and whistles you can afford because all real media sites cater to desktop audiences first.
  • Build a great app. Everyone’s talking about apps, right? If we build it, people will use it. While you’re at it, invest a shitload of money into building an iPad app.
  • Believe that traditional media is the only creator of truth for the people. It’s impossible that anyone else will have a different opinion. After all, you’re “mainstream media”.
  • Find comfort behind your paywalls. Tell yourself that if people really wanted your shit they can fucking pay for it since they can’t find it anywhere else. Like Christmas lattes at Starbucks, it’s to die for.
  • Ignore millennials. They’re too young to understand the real world. They’re too fickle. Besides, Snapchat is for silly young people.
  • Ignore gender and racial diversity. If people are reading you, they must look like you. But when in doubt, console yourself by uttering — “Those people aren’t my target audience.”
  • Ignore technology. Truth is the service we’re in. We’re better than algos. There’s no way technology can make this better. Don’t bother with coding. It’s for journalists who can’t write good.
  • Ignore technologists. Get them the fuck away from my newsroom. What do they understand about our artisanal work?
  • Stay fixated about roles and titles. Tell yourself the industry can only survive if we get the craft right. Promote people in straight lines with nice titles prefixed with “Senior”. Tell young people there’s only one way to rise within the ranks — by taking the steps you’ve taken to get there.
  • Ignore disruptions in other industries. They have nothing to teach you. Who cares if media is the only industry that doesn’t actually know who its customer is. We matter because we tell the truth, like it says on our masthead.
  • Android is rubbish. All my friends are on iPhones.
  • Don’t worry about encryption, security, hacking or surveillance. There’s no reason why anyone or any government would hate you. Everyone loves you because you only report facts.
  • Don’t bother understanding basic accounting. Your job is to hunt down bad companies. You don’t actually have to understand where to find revenue and cost lines in a spreadsheet.

Co-Founder, Splice Media. Supporting media startups in Asia. Follow Alan Soon on Twitter.

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