17 March 2014

The death spiral of news

Instead of generating their own content, news sites increasingly exist to paraphrase something somebody else said, or generate ad revenue by attracting reader comments in much the same way a jam jar with holes punched in the lid collects wasps. Sadly for editors, in the future, researchers will discover these comments aren't being typed by real-world humans at all; they are in fact the agonised howlings of blighted souls trapped in a text-only dimension parallel to our own. Lacking any physical form, these lost and tormented spirits are unable to purchase any products and services, and are therefore useless to advertisers. The day after this revelation, what little money remains in the online newspaper industry drops out completely, leaving behind a powerful vacuum that sucks in two-thirds of the internet. All news sites shut down overnight and are replaced with pictures of dogs in sunglasses for idiots to chortle at. Columnists warn gravely of the effect this lack of access to current affairs will have on society, but none of the columnists have columns any more, so they're reduced to typing this grave warning on Twitter, where no one can hear them over the sound of themselves chortling at the dog photos, apart from their six or seven columnist mates, who desultorily retweet it among themselves a few times before putting their smartphone down and crying softly in front of a daytime repeat of Masterchef.

- Charlie Brooker, Guardian, 16 March 2014
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