The Rise of the Internet’s Creative Middle Class



Fourteen years ago, Kevin Kelly famously proposed that an artist could make a living online with a thousand true fans. Has time proved him correct?

Earlier this spring, I made my way to a modest broadcast studio, situated on the second floor of a polished office building in downtown Washington, D.C., to watch a taping of an Internet news program called “Breaking Points.” The show’s producer, a young man named James Lynch, met me in the lobby and led me to a crowded control room. Three experienced-looking, middle-aged engineer types staffed the video boards. The scene reminded me of any number of studios that I’ve passed through for television appearances. Unlike those traditional shows, however, this control room also contained a much younger engineer, hunched over a computer screen, furiously editing the video streaming in from the studio. “We’ll post the show on YouTube by eleven,” Lynch explained. It was already close to ten.

Everything about the production of “Breaking Points” is fast. The show, which stars Krystal Ball, a former MSNBC host, and Saagar Enjeti, a former White House correspondent for The Daily Caller, produces three full episodes a week, sometimes adding extra “mini” shows responding to current events. The episodes are released in both audio and video formats almost immediately after they’re filmed. This speed is necessary because “Breaking Points” is attempting to approximate, using the tools of Internet publishing, the immediacy of live news broadcasting. A segment filmed in the morning might be out of date by the afternoon.

To meet this production schedule, the hosts attempt to record each block using as few takes as possible. When I arrived at the studio, Ball was recording a monologue about Ukraine in which she inveighed against “the baked-in pro-war bias” of cable news. A control-room engineer who was working the show’s video TriCaster console threw up a graphic a beat too soon. Ball stopped: “Can we do this again? Why was that so early?” This is the only reshoot that I witnessed during my visit. A little later, there was a lull as Lynch attempted to track down a former professional baseball player who was scheduled to be interviewed about the status of Major League Baseball’s labor negotiations. Ball and Enjeti stayed at their broadcast desk during the delay, using the time to write headlines for the short YouTube Clips that would be made of the segments they had just finished filming.

“MSNBC caught ‘floating’ . . . No, caught ‘platforming’ fake Ghost of Kyiv war news,” Ball offered.

“That’s good, that’s good,” Enjeti replied.

“That’s not too long?”

The headlines for the YouTube Clips, Enjeti explained, are very important for driving views, and little things like capitalizing emotive words can make a difference. The eventual Ghost of Kyiv headline was worded as “MSNBC CAUGHT Platforming FAKE ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ War News.” Ball told me that hyperbolic headlines help bring viewers to the straight-news content that’s contained in the clips. “We promise desserts, but serve up vegetables,” she said. (When I checked a few days later, the Ghost of Kyiv clip had already had more than a hundred thousand views.) Lynch eventually located the former baseball player, and I was ushered back to the control room. The young engineer continued to furiously edit and post clips. By 11:30 a.m., the filming was done: the content had all been uploaded, the control room had emptied, Enjeti was on his way to the gym, and Ball was headed home to relieve her babysitter.

Seguir leyendo: The New Yorker

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