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Date Posted: 13:21:44 01/06/17 Fri
Author: Lexi Lou Who
Subject: What is the Point of The Incline?

Before criticizing this new site I thought I should check it out for myself. I'm on the older edge of its demographic and I have journalism experience so I'm not just another cranky "old" who can't accept that we have to try new things in this field. I really wanted to give it a chance.

I just don't get what the point of The Incline is. Looking at it today there are 21 stories on its home page. Five of those are by staff writers, two are by the editor and one is by their Philly-based sports writer. The rest are links to other news sources, tweets, Instagram pictures and calendar items of "cool events."

And those two items written by the editor aren't even news, they're promotional: One is an announcement of their "Who's Next in Politics" list and the other is an announcement of a new sales hire.

The user interface of the site is puzzling and there are no ads. So do they raise money from the events with the "winners" of their contests? This is a tried-and-true method that the Pittsburgh Business Times and its sister papers have been doing for years (and they raise quite a bit of money from their events if I understand correctly). But will that revenue sustain a new site with no brand name recognition?

I guess my question is: What niche or audience is The Incline attempting to serve? And why do they keep trumpeting their affiliation with their "sister site" in Philadelphia? That's not going to win over readers in Pittsburgh, if anything it's going to be a strike against them.

I truly don't get why The Incline exists or why anyone would need to read it. It's a shame because there's a huge void in the Pittsburgh media market and a lot of out-of-work local journalists who could be helping this site with its credibility.

Someone please explain it to me. I don't get it.

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Replies:

[> Two answers and some explanation -- Billy Ballpoint Penn, 20:28:53 01/06/17 Fri [1]

1. They don't know.
2. They don't know.

This is all about a startup outfit from Philly, with backing from the bloated corporation known as Gannett, experimenting with something they think might replace conventional journalism and hopefully (maybe) produce profits. They think this MIGHT be something young people who are hung up on social media, might find attractive.

To assume most young people are so shallow as to buy into such a stereotype is offensive to them and to anyone who respects journalism.

As for silly Lexi, she's a former PG reporter who wants to be seen as being "on the cutting edge," in spite of the fact nothing she did at the PG stood out from the pack. Her work there was sufficiently undistinguished that she could have passed muster at the Trib or BCT.

Journalism in the 21st Century is changing. But there's no way this (or UpGruv) is its future.

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[> The journalistic "vision" of MJ Slaby... -- See ya later, aggregator, curator, whatever, 08:29:50 01/07/17 Sat [1]

https://theincline.com/2017/01/07/five-of-the-best-bad-yelp-reviews-of-pittsburgh-landmarks/

Wow. And this from someone who actually did actual journalism at a real newspaper, one run by adults...

https://medium.com/billy-penn/the-incline-hires-reporter-curator-mj-slaby-d923c58f89c9#.o8dh6qq84

Either Ms. Slaby is slumming, or thinks she's getting in on something new and cool and hip and fly and all that other good stuff. But it won't do her resume any good unless her grand plan is to punch her ticket to land a job at UpGruv.

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[> [> Re: The journalistic "vision" of MJ Slaby... -- Cure for Curators, 20:00:44 01/07/17 Sat [1]

It looks like MJ did some respectable work at the other dailies she worked at. It must be this desire to be out in front even on a train to nowhere like Billy Penn/Incline, that got her to Pittsburgh. Let's hope she gets this out of her system and gets back to real journalism at some point, Lexi, too.

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[> Re: What is the Point of The Incline? -- Madam Secretary, 13:37:25 01/08/17 Sun [1]

Most of the responses so far stand on the wrong side of history with last century's legacy media and miss the mark entirely as media continues progressing forward to become agents of change, diversity, inclusion, justice and honesty in countering the alt-right's fake news outlets.

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[> [> Re: What is the Point of The Incline? -- Get your head out of the clouds, 18:02:22 01/08/17 Sun [1]

The Incline is not, and never will be, an advent of any of the change you listed. It's superficial, snarky, and way in over its head.

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[> [> Re: What is the Point of The Incline? -- Chief of Staff Jackson, 19:22:48 01/08/17 Sun [1]

The cliches in this response are hilarious.

Please explain, if you will how the frivolous content of these sites, including lazy aggregating and curation, not to mention the "original content," much of it fluff, has ANYTHING WHATSOEVER to do with becoming "agents of change, diversity, inclusion, justice and honesty in countering the alt-right's fake news outlets."

Does that noble comment mean that silly listicles are going to stop Breitbart? Guess again.

The media is changing. That is s inevitable. But the final result is not going to be sorry, superficial garbage like the Incline, Billy Penn or UpGruv. Most of those who feel this is the next step are those involved in these sites, not anyone else. And isn't it odd you never mention the word journalism? That's what it's about: the truth, solid, unassailable fact, not shallow fluff meant to be chuckled at and forgotten.

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[> [> Re: What is the Point of The Incline? -- Anti-Social Media, 20:28:11 01/08/17 Sun [1]

Your defense doesn't sound generational, it sounds ideological. The rhetoric about "last century's legacy media" doesn't change the fact you are defending liberal-progressive viewpoints, not journalism. No one in their right mind considers the alt-right sites to be journalism, either.

It's amazing how many younger people are blindly believing junk sites are the future just because they aren't "legacy media." The means of delivery will certainly change but the standards cannot. I see no standards of any sort in Billy Penn or The Incline. Nor do I see how they can make one red cent of profit.

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[> [> [> Re: What is the Point of The Incline? -- Being charitable, 08:27:30 01/09/17 Mon [1]

Perhaps part of The Incline's rationale is that since young peoples' attention and time are so fragmented, even those who might be interested in reading conventional journalism and news stories are unlikely to do so, therefore, The Incline will try to hook them with quick hits, in the hope that they'll stick around long enough to click on something else marginally more informative and worthwhile.

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[> [> [> [> Re: What is the Point of The Incline? -- Charity begins with real journalism, 05:59:48 01/10/17 Tue [1]

That "rationale" insults the intelligence of millenials as a whope. Yes, some are clueless. But many are smarter than that. You say it's s all about "hooking them with quick hits, in the hope that they'll stick around long enough?" That is known as pandering or simply insulting peoples' intelligence. It's tantamount to saying, "First, give the kids a lot of Mars bars to gorge and maybe they'll eat their veggies." Ridiculous.

For sure, there will be new forms of media. This nonsense will be forgotten by then.

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[> [> [> [> Re: What is the Point of The Incline? -- UpCline, 05:29:15 01/11/17 Wed [1]

Let's see. All millennials are so busy being cool they don't have the time or depth of intellect to comprehend or digest conventional news stories. So build a website around material from other sites and add enough silliness to get them interested in "real journalism." That's taking a hell of a lot for granted.

It says less about milennials and more about the "geniuses" who are funding, advocating and creating this approach (Lexi take note). It's pretty risky to smugly assume a whole demographic is flighty, then market to them with that in mind. At the end of the day, monetizing this crap is easier fantasized about than achieved.

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[> [> Re: What is the Point of The Incline? -- Millenial apostate, 05:41:08 01/09/17 Mon [1]

The Incline and Billy Penn may not offer fake news, but their ridiculous original content certainly qualifies as "fake journalism." The future of newspapers will, for sure, be different, but it won't be this.

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[> [> Re: What is the Point of The Incline? -- Loyal Subject, 07:23:20 01/09/17 Mon [1]

surely you are not suggesting The Incline is the solution to combat the many woes of legacy journalism?

I give you today's offering, a video of a woman who makes tchotchkes out of pet hair.

https://theincline.com/2017/01/09/this-pittsburgh-woman-makes-yarn-and-keepsakes-out-of-pets-fur/

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[> Re: What is the Point of The Incline? -- Onlooker, 09:27:59 01/09/17 Mon [1]

Yo -- Chief of Staff:

Quoting you: The media is changing.

It's The media ARE changing.

"Media" is plural.

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[> [> Disagree -- Grammar Cop, 23:04:15 01/09/17 Mon [1]

No. The media *as an entity* is singular. The same as "The United States IS..."

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[> [> [> Re: Disagree -- AP Stylebook, 11:23:00 01/10/17 Tue [1]

"In the sense of mass communication, such as magazines, newspapers, the news services, radio, television and online, the word is plural."
DISCLAIMER: My stylebook's a few years old.

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[> Re: What is the Point of The Incline? -- Onlooker, 09:32:56 01/10/17 Tue [1]

Nonsense. Not the same thing at all. A corruption by people who isn't knowing any better. And a convenient rationale for misuse. They think the word "data" is singular, too.

I already know the next part of your argument. Don't bother.

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[> [> Re: What is the Point of The Incline? -- I'll gladly bother!, 16:49:54 01/10/17 Tue [1]

"A corruption by people who isn't knowing any better?

Bad grammar AND a sentence fragment? My goodness!

Seriously, Onlooker, are you here to argue the merits of grammar? I don't think so. You stopped by intending to defend your friends at the Incline and UpGruv. Realizing you lack any substantive basis to defend their immature, kiddie-car journalism, you instead pivot to nitpicking grammar.

Someone certainly "isn't knowing any better." Wonder who?

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[> [> [> Re: What is the Point of The Incline? -- Faces Off, 22:26:55 01/10/17 Tue [1]

This thread needs more emojis, because all those letters are confusing for some to understand. :)

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[> Re: What is the Point of The Incline? -- Onlooker, 13:47:08 01/11/17 Wed [1]

I love sentence fragments. Love them.

On the people thing -- I was being snide. Or I thought I was. You missed it. Guess I wasn't snide enough.

And as to the Incline and the Gruv. I don't know what they are, and from what I read on here, I don't want to know. The internet stuff I see is already bad enough. And I don't have any friends at either place. I don't know the names used here. And I should think it absolutely kills you when someone uses the word "and" to start a sentence. Would be my guess.
(It that last one a sentence fragment? Or is the word "that" understood?)
(And on those last two, have I gone through some convoluted thinking to a presumption? Further, I don't know about you, but I tire of parentheses in a hurry. I've got to find a way out of them.)
Ah. There. That does it.

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[> [> Re: What is the Point of The Incline? -- Milly N. Neel, 19:06:59 01/11/17 Wed [1]

Here, in a nutshell, is why journalism is dying. Someone asks a thoughtful question worth considering and the resulting conversation devolves into a grammar quarrel. We deserve the sorry state we're in if this is the best we can do

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[> [> [> Re: What is the Point of The Incline? -- Offlooker, 09:51:23 01/12/17 Thu [1]

Milly, if you go back through this thread, the deterioration (devolution) began when Onlooker decided to pop off about grammar, having added NOTHING to the dialogue about the merits of these new journalistic vehicles. Someone had some sort of axe to grind, despite the rather silly "denials."

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[> [> Re: What is the Point of The Incline? -- Fragmentary, 09:36:19 01/12/17 Thu [1]

Sentence fragments.

That's how you pad out an article.

In the sports section.

Of the Post-Gazette.

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[> How they would LIKE this to work -- Un Realistic, 13:46:51 01/12/17 Thu [1]

You see, the phone-pad addicted, news-starved milennials are supposed to look at these inane sites and notice someting and say to themselves, "Ooh! Cool! A video of a woman who makes tchotchkes out of pet hair! I wanna see that and be entertained!"

Then that will entice them to get serious and read some long article on Trump's Russian connections or maybe a lengthy article on the future of climate change. The geniuses financing these sites really believe this will happen.

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[> [> Re: How they would LIKE this to work -- Lexi Lou Who, 18:08:45 01/12/17 Thu [1]

Even if that strategy worked (and I'm not at all convinced that it does because no one has been able to make any money with it so far), The Incline doesn't even offer any in-depth original news, at least none that I have seen in the times I have visited the site. The news it does have is from other publications, packaged along with a bunch of social media posts.

How can they possibly make money this way? Better question: How long before Gannett decides they can funnel their money elsewhere?

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[> [> Re: How they would LIKE this to work -- Incline N DeCline N D UpGruv-Upchuk, 04:01:00 01/13/17 Fri [1]

Not long. They are probably already shaking their heads at Gannett.

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[> Re: What is the Point of The Incline? -- Upgoof, 02:13:10 01/14/17 Sat [1]

Is The Incline really worse than the Jennifer Bertetto Trib or her pet debacle Upgruv?

If you're a betting sort, don't you suspect that The Incline will survive both of those mediocre efforts?

It probably doesn't cost Gannett that much and the quality of the Incline is on par with the Trib (or better) so shouldn't we try grading on a curve?

I'll never read it, but I also never pick up the Trib.

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[> [> Re: What is the Point of The Incline? -- SidewaysGruv, 09:22:18 01/14/17 Sat [1]

No, the Incline is just as bad as BBO, a.k.a. "Bertetto's Bungled Offerings."

Gannett put startup money into Billy Penn/Incline and they are large enough to do that. The other side of it is they will expect RESULTS in the form of rising "readership" (an oxymoron in this case) and potential profit. No corporation this bottom-line oriented will indefinitely pump money into an "experiment" by people seeking a new "cool" format appealing to millennials unless it shows clear potential to make money.

Queen Jennifer wants to build a name with her half-baked attempts to save a bottom-rung operation that was never more than a paranoid billionare's fantasy. If what she's done so far is any example, a lot of people have no reason to pick up the Trib or even read it for free online. Her efforts strike me as last-ditch in nature.

The story below reveals the Trib is about the only place Jen ever worked, so she doesn't bring wide-ranging publishing experience to the table. Of course a stellar resume was never needed to get ahead at TTM. Ask Ralph Martin.

http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/7596086-74/trib-newspapers-martin

Jen's big achievement: abandoning the dubious proposition the Trib is and ever was "the fastest growing newspaper in America."

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[> [> Re: What is the Point of The Incline? -- Jenn Eric, 10:45:07 01/14/17 Sat [1]

"If you're a betting sort, don't you suspect that The Incline will survive both of those mediocre efforts?"

Not necessarily. The Incline owners and Gannett have less reason to stick around Pittsburgh if things go south or aren't working out per the finance department's assessment. The Incline has no permanent physical presence here and no loyalty to this area. The owners could just as easily choose another city with a millennial population and set up shop there. Change the name, get a new spiffy logo and churn out more generic, uninspired content in Baltimore or Chicago or Austin.

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