Let it die

It should be impossible to read Spin in 2021. The URL should either redirect to an elegiac 404, or a tasteful archive of the magazine's glory years. No publication has been treated more viciously by the plundering agents who run the media industry; those psychos who seem uniquely obsessed with distressing the assets of every beloved legacy brand on the web before handing off the baton to the next specious consortium of VC suckers. Spin has published some of the greatest music stories of all time, and if my calculus is correct, it's currently owned by Next Management Partners, who acquired it from Prometheus Global Media in 2020, who acquired it from M/C Partners in 2016, who absorbed it from SpinMedia in 2014, two years after the magazine stopped printing new issues entirely. 

There have been countless layoffs and regime changes in that time frame — at this point there are probably more music journalists who've worked a stint at Spin than those who have not — and the constant attrition has resulted in a site that has been completely drained of its precious lifeblood. The magazine exists like a meteor hurtling through space on pure inertia alone, as ownership generates demonic new debasement strategies ahead of another heartless flip. Spin's masthead currently hosts a section called, "NFT," a few columns over from "Features" and "News." Apparently, an "array of legendary Spin covers and other exclusive artwork" will soon hit the blockchain, conjuring up horrific images of Elon Musk dropping six figures on the Kurt and Courtney jpeg. Another insult, after more than a decade's worth of injury.

To be clear, a staff comprised of hardworking employees fill Spin with new articles everyday, and On Posting does not advocate for the further shrinkage of the media job market. God no, who do you think I am? This business is cruel enough as it is, and earning a livable wage from any company is a cause for celebration. That said, I think we'd all appreciate it if the investor class would stop taking up residence in the bloated, desiccated corpses of Former Magazines. Spin is just the tip of the iceberg. Take Newsweek, which used to send reporters to, like, The Battle of the Bulge, eons before the financial realities of digital media snuffed out its last hopes of sustainable profitability. A laughably crooked cartel called The International Business Times, (or IBT,) smelled blood and swooped in, bringing a legendary American paper into its ghastly clown show. IBT consecrated this historic coup by immediately getting raided by the Manhattan DA due to mounting esoteric fraud charges, resulting in its CEO narrowly dodging jail time with a cowardly plea deal. Somehow Newsweek survived, and it continues to whirr away on a remote corner of the internet, nurturing a non-sentient engagement farm designed to absorb the most apathetic clicks imaginable. The current growth strategy, as far as I can tell, circles around Newsweek's new "Political Correctness" vertical — in which red-assed Florida AM talk radio chuds are paid to pen pickled 1,200 word blogs about the NFL's "wokeness problem," as grist for the always reliable Uncle Internet. 

To reiterate, 80 years ago Newsweek journalists were filing stories from Iwo Jima, and now the paper's reporting footprint consists of headlines that read, "Critical Race Theory is Repackaged Marxism," written by the woman who replaced Tomi Lahren on OANN. Any safeguards IBT promised to the Newsweek protectorate vaporized the second the check cleared. All that remains is the hallowed name, serving as cover for the sweatshop of cynical, mean-spirited instincts lingering just below the surface. Unfortunately, I'm beginning to understand that that's the point.

I could go on. Deadspin was a profitable, canonical sports blog equipped with a talented staff that abdicated in 2019 due to the overbearing fatuousness of clueless upper management. Deadspin laid dormant for a while, before the powers that be at G/O Media filled the ranks with a new leadership slate — who quickly opened its pages to doofus, take-y, one-sentence-graf columnists like Rob Parker in a move that's so flagrantly antithetical to the Deadspin spirit it comes off like a pointed diss. Maxim is still somehow putting content on the internet — with nearly every post published under the amazing byline, "Maxim Staff" — which somehow seems inordinately disrespectful to a brand that never wielded much editorial gravitas to begin with. The same could be said for Playboy, which seems to enter another exhaustive, doomed rebrand every two weeks. There aren't any articles to be found on the Playboy site right now, though the Hefner endowment is also getting into NFTs. Any freelancer who was working between the years of 2012 and 2014 made some hay on Myspace's brief foray into the lifestyle press. (They once paid me $1,000 to blog about every song that ever appeared in The OC. Simpler times indeed.) Those days are long gone now, but Myspace still exists on some VC's ledger as a phantom, skeletal asset, and poetically, that means the only thing left on the Myspace web presence are links to reheated Spin stories, like an ouroboros of embalmed, zombified blogs recycling the noxious tides of 2006 until the end of time. 

From the moment I entered the press, all I heard from my superiors was that the media industry will simply cease to exist someday. The finance brokers shall determine, definitively, that it's impossible to generate revenue with banner ads, and the jig will mercifully be up. Honestly that fate might be preferable to where I think we're actually headed — which is a hellish timeline where all of our favorite publications have mutated into bizarre new permutations of themselves, slowly depreciating, atrophying, and introducing unseemly blockchain gimmicks, because the demands of capital cannot allow for a dignified death. Everyone on earth understands that Maxim should've been freed from this mortal coil a decade ago, but sadly, in this savage ecosystem, the ghost ship must be maintained indefinitely to squeeze whatever bitter juice is left. A pageview, here or there, from some desultory millennial bachelor who wishes to masturbate like he did in the Bush years. A lapsed Nada Surf fan, typing Spin into the address bar because it's the only notion of hipness they remember. The thousands who subscribed to Deadspin on Facebook in its wild 2010-ish incarnation, and continue to follow its Aaron Rodgers links into a steadily more misshapen and uncanny website. Sure, the media might be in terminal decline, but that does not mean we will be blessed with closure or clemency. After all, we already have plenty of proof that this industry will continue to haunt us in undeath. With every pivot, we stray further from God’s grace.

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Thank you for reading On Posting. As is tradition, I promise that I will try to write this newsletter more often. Let’s go for one more in September!