A Media Play In Two Acts


JULY 10, 2018


MTV News Shifts Toward Video, Targets Younger Audience (Variety)


ANDMTV News: The Good, the Bad, and the Contradictions of an Ill-Fated Experiment

The editorial ethos that Hopper and Fierman sought to build was ultimately not particularly unique to MTV News, or even to their previous endeavors. Longform journalism is an established brand now, and it has a certain, if cynical, function to executives who aim to make money off of it. Longform is a tasteful, and almost always safe, product which can be paired with advertisements that share those qualities—the belief goes that advertisers will pay premium prices for “premium” readers reading “premium” writing. But when MTV News’ longform threatened other, presumably larger amounts of money for the network—see: the Chance the Rapper fiasco—Viacom decided that the site was no longer providing a merely safe and inoffensive product. As such, executives who have loyalty only to dollar signs moved quickly to erase those articles from memory, and the editors who published them did not—or could not—stop them. And when a new executive decided that longform journalism had no marketing value to his company, he discarded it along with the employees who produced it.

In short, MTV pivot to issues journalism and hired a murder’s row to fulfill that need. Then decided it wasn’t working – pivoted to video and laid off all of those staffers. Now it wants to pivot back to issues, with the fun task of finding journalists that specialize in it, knowing that nearly all of those were either previously employed at MTV or will want to refuse to participate in solidarity with those who were laid off. Good job MTV!