The reading experiment that went sour

I read a lot. Partly because of my ingrained curiosity and the drive to learn and partly because I prefer longforms which serves to interpret the context of recorded words better. Internet began in democratisation of thoughts and speech (and some attempts to suppress it too).

There has been a rash of experiments with long form journalism- ideas that have spanned out from the rigid confines of opinion-editorials (and columnists) to a wider subscription led publications. Substack, interestingly, has monetised that platform and the newsletters are getting back in vogue. I am uncertain how long this trend would survive, but it also reflects on the diminishing grip of conventional media strongholds and balkanization of ideas- splintering of various niche groups and converging in “online communities” or behind paywall content.

However, given the tide of times, it is rather simpler to conform to the “trends” and push the familiar narrative, rather than producing an alternative voice or something to hook the reader for curiosity. Major publications now sound like a mass-produced factory version of “stories”, rather than deep dive of news.

This is not a critique of journalism but commodification and manufacturing of news. Vested influences across the spectrum of the political continuum indulge in the same. To prevail in the start up space, you require only three things acting in consonance- a proposal deck to beguile the investors, a marketing team to “gather users” and a strong legal team to shut out criticism. Many companies have sprung up to look at an autopsy of failed ventures, but the sharp critical lens is missing if they are operating well.

As a subscriber led publication, it should be essential to tick the boxes- neutrality, a conceptual idea and why the writer considers that it should be a value for money. As I alluded to earlier, a spate of me-too narratives have sprung up that make it troublesome to learn anything original.

With all due respects to one of the largest media companies in my part of the world, their management seems to have taken up cudgels against widespread sharing of content. Inarguably, some of it is outstanding- deep dives in specific sectoral issues are appealing. However, the other are cluttered space fillers. Their recent redesign suggests having found favor with their product managers and I have sound reasons to suppose that it was sorely for scarcity of ideas. Subsuming the entire domain under an umbrella of a single domain looses its allure as content worth paying for. It shows poor product judgments and for need of a stronger expression- absurdity.

The Internet is a vast resource and I find enough to read from topical blogs and other varied resources. From now on, I intend to write more and stay on a quest to unearth better resources worthy of my time and attention.