Claim: Brijit Is More Than A Resource For The Pretentious And Lazy 38514
Yesterday, I wrote a post claiming that sites like Brijit miss the point of great journalism. Bryan Keefer, Brijit???s managing editor and my former coworker, wanted a chance to respond. Below is his rebuttal. -raronauer
The question at the heart of Rebecca’s post about Brijit is one media types have been dealing with since Mosaic first crawled to a web site: Is the Internet, and its predisposition to short-form, kibbles-and-bits content, making people smarter, or making them dumber?
The depth vs. breadth issue is one that’s endlessly debated inside newsrooms and soporific “future of the media” conferences, and I’ve been in both, so I can say that with some authority. Here’s the real problem I think online readers face: There’s a ton of good stuff out there, but it’s very difficult to find - especially the long-form journalism that has the greatest impact. The Internet has made so much content accessible that people are now faced with the problem of sorting good information from the bad. Blogs have done a decent job of addressing this issue - you come to Jossip, you know you’re getting media news - but generally only within very narrow niches.
There are the billion or so (yes, I counted) sites devoted to aggregating headlines - Drudge, Huffington Post, Google News, Digg and other user-generated-social-media-web-2.0-headline-fests. But that’s really all they do: headlines, mostly about breaking news, and mostly without much beyond that. They don’t really give you a summary to help you decide what’s worth the time, or help you assess the quality of a given piece of content. Magazine-length pieces don’t naturally lend themselves to an RSS world; they’re just not structured that way. And there’s no algorithm that can really tell you whether one of those sprawling New Yorker pieces is worth your time before you get so mired in it that you have no exit strategy.
People will still sit down with (or upload, or print out) 5,000-word articles, or listen to hour-long radio shows, but there’s so much out there, they want to be sure it’s a good investment of their time. That’s the idea behind Brijit - not replacing old media outlets, but serving as a filter for busy people who know there’s good content out there, but don’t have the time to hunt it all down.
Yes, some people are likely to use the site as a cocktail party cheat-sheet. So it goes. We can argue whether it’s better for people to read deeply or broadly, but the real point is: with the web, you can have both. It’s just that media outlets aren’t really set up to give it to you. The idea behind Brijit is to fill that gap.
Sure, you can cheat, but, as they always told you in elementary school, cheating really just ends up hurting the cheater. At that cocktail party, you might know that some dude set a record by driving from New York to Santa Monica in 31 hours and 4 minutes, but you’ll probably run into some guy who read the whole article and knows the driver was originally inspired by French director Claude Lelouc’s C’tait un Rendez-vous not Cannonball Run. And that guy will probably end up making out with your girlfriend in the host’s bathroom, because your girlfriend will think he’s smarter and better-informed than you are. And then you’ll wish you had actually taken the time to click through, like our editors suggested.
Bryan Keefer must be reading for, well, who knows. The name of the film he closes with is “C???etait un Rendez-vous,” with an extra “e” (maybe that’s too much of that messy depth) and the director’s last name is Lelouch, again, excess information.
But when you’re chatting at a cocktail party, no one asks for spelling.