Where Have All the Good Sites Gone!

The hollowing out of Pitchfork is sad news. But it's also just the latest grim dispatch from the digital media hellscape

Where Have All the Good Sites Gone!

If you care about digital media in general or entertainment writing in particular, you've no doubt already heard the shitty news of the day — specifically that the suits at Condé Nast, in all their infinite wisdom, have decided to merge Pitchfork with the company's GQ brand. Because nothing makes shareholders harder than layoffs, this move also comes bundled with people losing their jobs, and by "people" I guess I probably mean "mostly employees and freelancers who were already being taken advantage of by Condé Nast."

I'm not really here to eulogize Pitchfork. It would be disingenuous. I never spent a ton of time on the site, and what little I did read left me feeling like I was being lectured by a new wave of cultural gatekeepers. In a way, I suppose Jefitoblog was something of a reaction against the Pitchforks and Stereogums of the mp3 blogosphere, at least in terms of trying to ignore the line between cool and uncool. Nothing against those sites, really; I just don't think reading that type of culture writing is fun, and fun was mostly all I ever really wanted to have with any of this.

Fun is what I'm here to eulogize, belatedly. If you've read this site's About page, you know I was partly motivated to revive Jefitoblog because I missed the feeling of navigating to a website and feeling like I was part of a community. That feeling started fading around the time everyone agreed to use Facebook for their comment sections, and it really took a beating once corporate money came flooding in to gobble up the best-known brands. Click by click, dollar by dollar, they were steadily bleached of the stuff that made them special.

And that's the real casualty of the last ten years or so — the idea of the internet as a place of wild character and infinite possibilities rather than a lukewarm bathwater sea of aggregated clickbait, all screeching the same dissonant chorus. Various social media platforms offered a smudged facsimile of this ideal for a little while, but that's over now. As far as I can tell, Reddit is about all that's left of all that, and even that unruly place has been corrupted by the boardroom.

Much as I might continually advocate for a return to a wampum-based economy, I'm also not really here to shit on the idea of trying to make money. Money can do some good stuff, and there's nothing wrong with the pursuit of profit — if, that is, you can pursue it without abandoning or destroying the things that make what you're offering valuable in the first place. Maybe you're meant to be a niche thing, deeply beloved by a core crowd of diehards. Maybe you won't ever [shudder] scale. That's okay! Not everything is for everyone! In fact, I would argue that every site trying to be everything to everyone has heavily contributed to the overwhelming lack of personality found within just about every major media brand/vertical/etc./ugh a person could think of right now.

Mostly, this is just me using my keyboard to try and partly purge myself of the latest wave of frustration and annoyance I feel about all this, and also to reaffirm that carving out a tiny pocket of old-school internet fun is my main goal for Jefitoblog in these early days of its revival. If you're reading this, I want each new post's arrival to make you happy the same way I did whenever I noticed a new post at The Sneeze, or when I visited the Velvet Rope, or when I discovered that some commercially unsuccessful band or TV show I loved had somehow managed to attract a fan community at a site or BBS or some other damn thing. These were their own places, with their own voices, and they weren't bucked about on the whims of dividend-thirsty shareholders or hopeful fascists in silly-looking pilot jackets and absurdly expensive jeans.

Anyway — deep breath — enough of that from me for now. This site isn't going to change the world, but I think it might lift my spirits to a degree, and I'd like it if it did the same for you. To that end, I'd like to know what you want to get out of this — which types of posts, which site improvements, that kind of thing. I'm not quite ready to start trying to promote Jefitoblog in earnest yet, and we're still a very small group. Consider yourselves beta testers, and test away in the comments. I may not be willing or able to deliver everything, but I'm definitely curious.