JO 304: 5 Mashable Final Observations

Mashable.com front page, April 21

In tracking the technology site Mashable, many things stand out when they veer away from stories about new technology.

The site’s bread and butter remains stories like this one about Nintendo paying hackers to find problems with the Nintendo Switch.

However, when the site finds a way to report on a hot story, they will do it with little hesitation — especially if that story involves a celebrity. The five observations below are based on one of their favorite punching bags: the recently-fired Bill O’Reilly.

  1. Writers have an opinion (and are not shy about sharing it)

The main site story, the one each follow-up linked to in the first few paragraphs, is a feature piece. Rebecca Ruiz, a writer on issues of gender, sexuality, and equality, did detail O’Reilly’s denial of the accusations, which involved accusing “far-left organizations” of a conspiracy against him. Ruiz does not buy it.

“If Fox News — the bastion of anti-political correctness that it is — can’t tolerate an alleged serial sexual harasser in its midst anymore, that’s more than just a victory for O’Reilly’s accusers,” she wrote. “That’s a triumph for reasonable people everywhere who refuse to accept that sexual harassment at work is normal or defendable.”

After detailing the journalistic requirements (who, what, where, why, how), Ruiz uses sources that support her view as stated above: Karin Roland, chief campaigns officer at the advocacy organization UltraViolet; Maya Raghu, director of workplace equality for the National Women’s Law Center.

Even the video that accompanies the story follows the same overtures of “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” sentiment.

2. Stories about the story

Late-night comedians are a frequent fixture on the site’s coverage of a major news event.

When “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert brought back his persona from “The Colbert Report” to bid farewell to his idol, Mashable compared their ways of saying goodbye in a short description of the video.

New host of “The Daily Show” Trevor Noah compiled a “greatest hits” for O’Reilly’s show. The lede for this video starts “Yesterday was a beautiful, beautiful day for television.”

Comedy Central’s Samantha Bee, host of “Full Frontal,” took a red drawing tool and marked up O’Reilly’s statement with “corrections.”

3. Twitter persona

Here is how the Mashable Twitter account promoted the various stories. Click on the links. Notice how the headlines on the tweets differ from the site itself.

These tweets assume a certain audience, especially the third tweet to a story about how President Donald Trump and Fox News actually benefit from the firing of O’Reilly.

4. Social media is the story

The go-to joke online in the wake of O’Reilly’s firing went as follows: “I guess Bill O’Reilly is no longer a factor.”

An entire post was devoted to various people on Twitter, all with the same joke.

5. Sharing is Caring

Mashable is keyed in to getting their articles shared. This ties in with point four: if someone I know reads a story on Mashable which features my tweet, they might share the story with me — starting a cycle where I do the same, saying “hey, look where my tweet went.”

At the top of each article are three things: the total shares, share buttons for Facebook and Twitter (with an expandable option for Google Plus, LinkedIn, Pintrest, and StumbleUpon), and the “Mashable Velocity” chart to detail how frequently people share the article online.

CONCLUSION

Mashable targets a certain audience of young, liberal-minded women with their topics and style, while catering to young men through the hard-hitting technology news.

Instead of trying to branch out and incorporate new audiences, the site goes aggresively for their target demographic. They seem to believe that this audience is what will get them the most clicks, and the most social media activity.

In the end, that is what every news site is after in the digital age: activity. The more it can attract, the better the payoff.

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Published by

Max Wolpoff

Journalism student at Boston University ('19), lifelong fan of the Washington Capitals, beat writer and occasional broadcaster for the BU Women's Ice Hockey team. If you ever need him during the week, Max is probably studying for something.

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