When Did NOLA.com Become a Mean Girlish Clickbait Troll?

From The PublisherI can’t believe I’m writing yet another editorial about local media this week.

Just a couple days ago, I published a piece called “How to Sell More Papers by Pissing Off the Rest of Baton Rouge.” In it, I pitched story headlines that writers could use to alienate Baton Rougeans, much like 225′s new editor and the woman who wrote a review of Louie’s Cafe in The Advocate did.

Well it seems Diana Samuels, of NOLA.com, the online home of the (some)Times-Picayune, is following a slightly different playbook.

Not only isSamuels, who works in NOLA.com’s Baton Rouge office, apparently doing her damnedest to piss off the denizens of the capital city — where the Times-Pic has tried to make inroads in the community and compete against The Advocate on its home turf — but she’s also stirring up shit between residents of the state’s two most populous cities.

It’s like if the Mean Girls ran a news site. What they call “conversation” is really just media manipulation at its lamest.

On Monday, NOLA.com published her article “Hey, all you New Orleans haters: What’s your problem with Baton Rouge?” Initially, it came across to me as just some saccharine piece of drivel by a green journalism school graduate who hadn’t figured out why there’s a rivalry between the two cities. I interpreted it as her attempt to say, “Can’t we all just get along?”

Man, was I naive. I was fucking naive.

Despite her tepid compliments, her goal wasn’t to make Baton Rouge seem less shitty. No, her article was just a means to focus the Big Easy’s ire against the Big Raggedy, to collect the Crescent City’s anti-Baton Rouge bile in the form of comments.

And boy, did New Orleans deliver some bile. There are 621 comments on that article as I write this.

Now, after getting that kind of traffic, most media outlets would just cash in their chips and call it a win. But not NOLA.com. Oh, no.

Instead, they took those comments and put them all on “Fuck Baton Rouge.” They doubled down by publishing two days later a clickbait troll piece, based on those hundreds of comments, titled “10 things you hate about Baton Rouge.”

nola-dot-com-10-things-hate-baton-rouge

It’s like if the Mean Girls ran a news site. What they call “conversation” is really just media manipulation at its lamest:

 

  • Step 1: Stoke a simmering, playful rivalry by asking one side why it doesn’t like the other side.
  • Step 2: Invite and encourage anonymous internet users to comment, thereby ensuring the most hate-filled responses.
  • Step 3: Use those unmitigated, hate-filled responses to compose a cheesy Buzzfeedish photoblog list summarizing the most common grievances.

 

It’s a simple formula guaranteed to generate web traffic while sowing discord between the two sides. In this case, the rival sides are NOLA.com’s two main markets, and the battlefield where they meet is the pages of NOLA.com.

It’s about as constructive as an Israeli newspaper asking, “Hey, all you Palestinians: What’s your problem with Jews?” then following it up with a piece called “100,000 things you hate about Jews,” all while making money on the whole thing.

You managed to get a major U.S. city on record as saying one of the biggest reasons it hates another U.S. city is because it has AIDS. That’s some classy shit right there.

Come to think of it, it sort of reminds me of the plot of You Only Live Twice. You know, the James Bond movie where SPECTRE played the U.S. and the Soviet Union against each other, bringing them to the brink of war, all in a quest for more web traffic?

Diana Samuel's unaltered photo.
Diana Samuel’s unaltered photo.

That’s right. Diana Samuels is Ernst Stavro Blofeld … disguised as Regina George from Mean Girls. Kudos to whoever helped her hide that facial scar.

So what’s on the list of things New Orleanians hate about Baton Rouge? Mostly things we at The Red Shtick have poked fun of, like traffic, bad urban planning (this shit was planned?), pollution, overzealousness for LSU — you know, things most of us in Baton Rouge would cop to, if not for the way in which they were presented.

However, there’s one item that seems a bit untoward: “Prevalence of HIV/AIDS.”

Good going, Diana Samuels and NOLA.com. You managed to get a major U.S. city on record as saying one of the biggest reasons it hates another U.S. city is because it has AIDS. That’s some classy shit right there.

I’m guessing Samuels’ next articles are going to be titled (in order):

 

  • “Hey, Baton Rouge: You gonna take that shit lying down?”
  • “10 reasons why Baton Rouge thinks New Orleans is a cesspool that should be reclaimed by the Gulf of Mexico”
  • “Aaaah shit, New Orleans! Baton Rouge just called you a bitch! Whatcha gonna do ’bout that!?!”
  • “10 ways New Orleans says Baton Rouge can fuck itself”
  • “Hey, New Orleans: Baton Rouge says it wants to meet you outside.”
  • “Yo, Baton Rouge: New Orleans says, ‘Bring it, mutha fucker!'”

 

I would tell Diana Samuels to go get hit by a bus like her mentor Regina George, but this is Baton Rouge, the home of CATS. God knows how long it would take for one to come by.RedShtick-Top-ColumnStop

About Jeremy White

Jeremy White is an engineer by education, but a smartass by birth. He managed to overcome the obstacles presented by his technical background, and has brilliantly devised a way to make a living making fun of people.

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