Gabriel Snyder to The Atlantic Wire: On Growing Up an Aggregator


Gabriel Snyder, who was fired by Nick Denton as the editor-in-chief of Gawker in February 2010, will be joining The Atlantic as the editor of the magazine’s Atlantic Wire aggregation website, according to an Observer report today. Snyder will replace Ben Carlson, who left for a job at Rupert Murdoch’s iPad newspaper The Daily. But more than just a New York hire, Synder’s task to ramp up the online aggregation section of a 154-year-old magazine raises real relevant questions for aspiring young writers. Is aggregating the only way to make it? Answers — plus, find out what happened to Julia Allison and details about the new 4chan — inside Press Clips, our afternoon media round-up.

From Old to New at The Atlantic: Snyder is the man many credit for easing Gawker onto the national scene with an emphasis on more original reporting and less local aggregation. As a result, traffic exploded, but Snyder was rewarded with a one-way ticket out, losing his job to Remy Stern in the (as of yet uncompleted) swallowing of Stern’s own NYC-centric CityFile by Gawker. Snyder landed as the editor of, but lasted only five months, as the company was put up for sale and eventually joined with Tina Brown’s The Daily Beast.

The Atlantic, meanwhile, is currently celebrating its $1.9 million profit last year, accomplished “in part by embracing digital platforms that other titles regarded in horror,” in the words of the Observer, and “will announce tomorrow that its web properties drew more than 5 million unique visitors in January, a new high.”

And so Snyder, according to the outgoing Nick Summers at the Observer, will be expected “to hire 15 young aggregators” in New York City as the new Wire editor, adding to a staff of nine currently working from Washington, D.C. Meaning, Snyder will be charged with completing something more in line with “old” Gawker, in which inexperienced (and presumably low-paid) youngsters collect news and opinion published elsewhere. Except, where Snyder’s Gawker, in its non-original reporting, and many other blogs today (including this one) hope to add value by connecting dots, drawing parallels and making jokes, The Wire is simply meant to collect and cut, making others’ opinions more easily digestible.

Put more broadly:

“Yeah, I think that coming in and doing curation and aggregation in many ways is the new ‘go out to a small paper and earn your stripes covering the school board,'” Bob Cohn, the editorial director of Atlantic Digital, told The Observer.

Yes, it’s gross in many ways and could be considered a form of bottom-feeding. Many reporters and editors, almost all probably over the age of 25, are convulsing with frustration and disgust at the thought. But Cohn is not wrong. For better or worse, the reality is that anyone who makes money writing or editing, under a certain age, has spent some time — as a volunteer, intern, part-time employee or full blown professional — in the salt mines of the aggregator.

As a child of this moment myself, and defensive as it may seem, I have to say: the kids are not to blame. The reality is as ugly to us — we being those who fish for an SEO catch or a Digg-ed story of our own repackaging — as it is to the trained professional with sources and scoops and ink-stained hands.

The will to learn is not always enough when there are bills to pay. To date, I have made roughly 1,107 times more money linking to thinly sourced reports about Lindsay Lohan than I have reporting any original news. (Luckily, at Runnin’ Scared, we have the ability to do both, forming what’s hopefully a well-rounded online resource.) But once you factor in money spent on schooling, the earnings I’ve received outside of aggregation-oriented writing positions is still in the bloodiest shade of red imaginable. It’s unlikely the numbers will ever even out. And I’m not alone.

To date, I’ve known of but one aspiring journalist who ditched city living and took the “go out to a small paper and earn your stripes covering the school board” route. The median age where he lives and reports comes with wrinkles. And so if the question becomes, “Be a journalist or be appropriately young and sell your soul to The Atlantic Wire,” at least for a certain subset of young writers and would-be journalists, hyperlinks to Charlie Sheen text messages glitter gold. And new skills of a traditionally respected variety, let us hope, will come in time.

Julia Allison Makes Money: Elsewhere in the media world, Forbes‘ Jeff Bercovici has located the poster-child/pariah (depending on who you ask) of the gossipy NYC middle-to-late aughts. “Starting March 1, she’ll be writing a weekly column on social media and digital communications for Tribune Media Services, the newspaper-and-TV chain’s syndication arm. Called ‘Social Studies,’ it will cover topics from Twitter etiquette to cyberbullying to Facebook envy syndrome.” Take a deep breath, everyone.

RIYL: The New York Times has launched a new “Recommendations” feature based on the articles you’ve read while signed in to the website. Every story is about yachts. (Kidding! Sort of.)

Money For News, Beast-Style: Speaking of real reporting and The Daily Beast, Tina Brown’s website and new wife of Newsweek has inked a deal with the Center for Public Integrity, in which the richer company gives money to the one who reports exclusive stories. And everyone else has more time to build slideshows.

4chan Part Two, Dreams Come True: Christopher Poole, founder of the anarchic image board and meme well 4chan, launched his new site, Canvas, today for 4,000 early users, according to TechCrunch.

So what’s Canvas? Like 4chan it’s a place for people to post content and start a discussion. It has distinct similarities to 4chan – although content is archived, and people create accounts. But users stay totally anonymous. Their profile page is nothing more than a gathering of the various content they’ve added to the site.

Canvas is starting just with images. Like Dailybooth users upload a picture and a discussion starts. Dailybooth, though is mostly about people uploading pictures of themselves. Lots and lots and lots of pictures of themselves. On Canvas, there’s a lot of photoshopping going on, and some of it is highly entertaining.

For pictures of a fat baby with eyeballs on its stomach, and to read more about Canvas, click here.


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