Thursday, April 7, 2011...9:35 pm

New media is all about reader engagement – but not at Gawker

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Quote of the day from James Fallows’ fascinating profile of Gawker Media in an Atlantic magazine feature on new media:

[Gawker Media founder Nick] Denton has concluded that courting commenters is a dead end. A site has to keep attracting new users and an in-group of commenters might scare new visitors off. “People say it’s all about ‘engagement’ and ‘interaction,’ but that’s wrong,” he said. “New visitors are a better indicator and predictor of future growth.”

So that’s it – who cares about building your loyal readership? The only thing that matters is wave after wave of new consumers, grazing like mindless cattle on your relentlessly refreshed content (which flies in the face of the idea that newspapers should be more selective about the customers they welcome into their online news outlets, but hey).

Loads more, too, including a terrific discussion on headline writing:

“I’m against verbs,” Denton told me. “It’s almost as if you’ve got to get the whole story into the headline,” [staff writer] Brian Moylan said, “but leave out enough that people will want to click.” […] “The public is not very forgiving of wit in headlines,” Denton added. “Or irony. You can get away with one opinionated word, if the rest is literal and clear.” [writer] Maureen O’Connor had a further rule: “It can’t be more than two lines on the home page. Your eyes can’t take it in. You want the dumbest headline possible!”

Read the whole thing – great stuff.

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