I want to tell you a sordid tale about an industry run by hypocritical corporate fat cats, overpaid salesmen (PR reps), itinerant hacks and lazy bloggers.
Yes, this dusty little patch of paradise known as “online journalism” has become corrupt enough to discourage even Rudy Giuliani from strapping on a flame thrower and burning away the musty, dripping rot that permeates every pathetic word we type.
Ah, now you smell it. Your nostrils twitch in disgust, your face contorts involuntarily, your legs spasm uncontrollably.
“What is the horrible odour?” you cry out in horror as shocked olfactory glands beg for mercy.
Well, says I, look over there at that shadowy, yet familiar figure. He crouches ashamedly, shading sensitive eyes from the glare of sickly yellow light cast by thousands of flickering street lamps.
Slowly, you become aware that he is a nondescript, middle-aged man dressed in a three-piece suit, wearing shiny, polished black shoes. He seems curiously occupied, delicately wiping a sweaty brow with his perfumed Armani handkerchief in what appears to be a frantic attempt to soak up the overwhelming stench of desperation.
Another man crouches in the cold twilight, his young poker face illuminated by the soft glow of a laptop as he silently types every word uttered by the heavily perspiring excuse for a salesman.
“This new chip runs circles around the competition,” he bellows in a booming voice. “It has an infinite number of doohickeys, is optimised for every known widget, supports DX100, is 3D capable and can even simulate sex on 1,000 monitors. You don’t need a woman anymore, I swear, this chip does it all. Forget about the Kama Sutra, this is the next-gen digital age on crack!”
The salesman pauses, allowing the young journalist-blogger hybrid to transcribe every word as if it were gospel preached by a dying Saviour nailed to a bloody, virtual cross.
“Now son, we are reaching out because the team and I believe you understand the importance and capabilities of this magnificent processor which defies and even exceeds – there is no other way of putting it – the laws of modern engineering.
“Of course, we will be sending you the chip, pre-loaded and pre-configured by our best minds in a specially designed gaming rig. It will – quite literally – blow your mind away, I swear.
Your review means a lot to us, you know, and I am not just saying that. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out and give us a call. Day or night, it makes no difference to us. We’re here for you!”
The journalist – unperturbed by the shameless carnival barking – blinks twice and submits the story to a site that cares little about quality and even less about the truth. Sadly, he has already learned what matters most to his incompetent superiors: hits, unique visits and bounce rates.
Have no fear, this journalist is not alone. He has joined the growing ranks of a pathetic, oppressive industry that pisses on the truth while proudly chasing ethereal streams of advertising revenue.