The beauty of Web publishing, and the specific beauty of TechCrunch, is that the only barrier between bloggers’ overflowing brains and readers’ racing hearts is a publish button. And the writer should be the one to click it.
Over the course of our conversation, Tsotsis told me she viewed the act of writing the post as a sort of meta-comment on The New York Times’ antiquated editorial structure: “Look what I can do with my dumb little WordPress blog. You guys can’t do this. Watch,” she remembered thinking.
Whether you love or hate Alexia Tsotsis’ writing, one thing is certainly true: she’s no one’s monkey. And while a debate about the wisdom of making “Fuckers” the first word of a blog post would undoubtedly be entertaining, that’s not what I want to talk about. Tsotsis and Beaujon make two very interesting points that directly relate to WordPress and its effect on publishing.
WordPress is absolutely a tool that can (and given the state of the tools they were previously using, should) be used by Ye Olde Media Guarde. We’ve even made some steps toward supporting a basic editorial workflow with the Contributor role (which can submit posts for review, but not publish them). But using WordPress in that way is like using a computer to print a letter and then fax it to your recipient. It feels like an artificial restriction. We’ve empowered individuals to publish what they want to publish, when they want to publish. Reinstating the print media workflows of the last century very much feels like a step backwards. Writers got a taste of true publishing freedom. Readers got a taste of what it’s like to actually have a connection and conversation with a writer instead of just being delivered their words. We can’t pretend that didn’t happen.
One of WordPress’ user experience breaks from its competitors was its “Publish” button. Other software had a “Save” button and then a drop-down status selector. So you’d select “Published” from the status drop-down, and then hit “Save”. With WordPress, your post is always one quick click away from being shared with the entire world. It’s more raw, more immediate, and more emotionally satisfying. WordPress also instituted “Edit” links on the front end, which gave the same sense of immediacy to the updating process. As much as the old media has embraced blogging as part of their publishing strategy, they’ve not fully integrated its responsive and update-able nature. On the whole, old media “blog posts” feel like a place where statements of questionable truth go to die and never be corrected, clarified, or amended.
Web publishing is much, much more than print publishing with the web as a distribution network. As long as the old media treats the web as a pipe instead of an opportunity to modernize the way they publish, they’ll continue to be called “the old media”.
BRB. Leaving a voicemail with my editor so she can get this post published in tomorrow’s issue.