A Brief Defense of Writing Different Things


Yesterday, we ran a little item by this blogger defending American Apparel. Today, Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan [and Voice boxing correspondent] responded with a retort entitled “A Brief Defense of Writing Things.” Ah, but Hamilton! I never argued against your “writing things.” I argued against running a maybe-once-interesting-but-now-tired story over, and over, and over again. Or rather, for different things!

My argument was, simply, that there are things to be pissed off at American Apparel about, but that the media, or I guess in this case, Gawker, is focusing on the wrong things. And they have run stories about these — let’s face it — essentially edgeless things again and again for months. Pageviews, anyone?

Gawker commenter Octothorp: “What HamNo failed to mention — but which everybody already knows — is that it pays, via Denton’s bonus system (see elsewhere on the site) to run certain stories, no matter how cursory, badly written, or widely covered in other media outlets, because certain names generate more page hits, and more page hits = a bigger paycheck.” I didn’t say that, Octothorp did! [Ed. Gawker’s on a ‘Unique Visitors’ bonus system. For whatever it’s worth.]

And you’re right: The “everybody knows” complaint isn’t usually valid. If Gawker had run one or two stories about AA, and I had whined that “everybody knows it!”, then I’d have been silly, and wrong. But considering that the site has run dozens of pieces about the company, yeah, we all kind of do know it by now. Or at least, Gawker’s audience does. And no, we do not need anyone to “HAMMER A POINT REPEATEDLY into our obstinate, all-too-human skulls.” The thing is, I’m reading your site because it’s funny and informative, not because MY SKULL IS OBSTINATE AND ALL-TOO-HUMAN.

And you’re right (again!) that the “just ignore it” complaint doesn’t work a lot of the time, either. If I’d told you to “Just ignore the oil spill!” or “Just ignore the war in Afghanistan” that would have been an entirely different thing. But this is a clothing company. So I stand by this: If you don’t like them, don’t shop there. It’s easy enough. Or go pick up some gold lamé jumpsuits, if that’s your thing (and you can know that they’ve been made in a U.S. factory that’s fair to workers). Either way, it’s still just a clothing company.

So, Hamilton, please continue to write things! That’s what we’re there for: to watch you write! But do we really need to read the same story about the same thing every day?