A Week in the Life of NME.COM – The Edited Highlights

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Twitter is my social network of choice. I like the simplicity of it, and its concise nature.  I find it a great tool for sharing information, and, most of the time, it doesn’t come with the emotional baggage of Facebook. Facebook is for people I know in real life, Twitter is for people who provide me with links to interesting things to read and look at.

Which brings us neatly to NME.COM.

Like most people, I spend my days sat at a computer. Hour after hour I watch the Tweets refresh and grimace at the ‘content’ coming from NME.COM’s Twitter account that pollutes my feed.

I had been meaning to put this post together for months but in this case time makes no difference. I’ve gone back over the last week and put together edited highlights of NME.COM’s tweets but it could have been any seven day period in recent memory. When you take out the news stories, the press releases masquerading as new stories, the small number of opinion pieces, the troll-baiting masquerading as opinion pieces and the tiny amount of reviews (Yes! NME reviews things! Who knew that!), what remains is a depressing stream of pointless and inane listicles that would make a Q Magazine editor blush and a bunch of “We don’t have much of an opinion, but what do you think?” posts.

Do the people who put NME.COM together and who write for it wake up every morning with joy in their heart and a spring in their step and set out that day to write something that resonates. Do they get to the end of the working day and feel that they achieved everything that they could and did it all to their best abilities. I just can’t fathom how it works.

Although I’ve always known the lead picture at the top as the Project Management Triangle (with Wikipedia telling me it’s also called the Triple Constraint or the Iron Triangle), it’s more commonly referred to as “Fast, Cheap, Good: Pick Two”.  Essentially:

  • if you want something quickly and to high standard, it will not be cheap
  • if you want something quickly and cheap, it will not be high quality
  • if you want something cheap and with high quality it will not be quick.

NME.COM (and countless other internet publications) have fixed their two sides of the triangle: they’ve chosen fast and cheap, so the quality cannot and will not be high. They’ve chosen to churn out content as fast as they can manage to maximise page hits.

NME.COM highlights everything that’s wrong with an internet publishing business model that’s based on page hits. As a photographer, I’ve often considered how perverse it is that a writer could compose a truly stuinning live review or album review or come up with an insightful, interesting and entertaining interview and yet the majority of readers will only read it once. By comparison I could put together a terrible click-through gallery of awful photos and the instant that someone clicks on ‘Next’, I’ve promoted and validated the business model more than a one-time read article will have managed.

Pitchfork comes in for a lot of criticism on Collapse Board but I’m blown away by its recent Cover Story features, in particular the latest one on Bat For Lashes. Forget what I said before about only reading an interview once, I’ve clicked on that feature almost every day in the last week. It’s just such a beautiful marriage of images and text, a real work of art, that it makes the content almost superfluous. The same could be said of the previous Cover Stories on Passion Pit, Cat Power and Ariel Pink but, for me, the Bat For Lashes story is the real game-changer.

I’m guessing that the time, effort and cost will prohibit the Cover Story approach being an everyday occurrence (rather than monthly at present) but compare and contrast it to NME.COM and it shows what can be done and that some publications are striving to improve the quality of web publishing.

In the meantime, if there is a race to the bottom of the internet, NME.COM is way ahead of the pack and at terminal velocity.

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