What I’m reading and writing, June 7

• French media consultant Frédéric Filloux was offended by an off-color ad while visiting the Huffington Post, but for more than just the obvious reasons. This reveals to him that mediocrity is king at Arianna Huffington’s media empire, which also . . . :

“. . . acknowledges that its content is, in fact, cheap. It therefore admits that volume, rather than targeting or relevance, drives the value of its content.”

It’s a segue into a longer argument against cheap content, with this hopeful conclusion:

“In this ocean of mass audience low grade products, authentic journalistic efforts will have to get used to taking refuge on tiny audience islands. A consolation: such audiences will be solvent and willing to understand the true price of editorial. Hopefully.”

• Then the “Newsosaur,” Alan Mutter, dashes that hopefulness with plenty of pessimism that journalism startups will help fill the void. The reason, he asserts, is that journalists will be spending more of their time doing journalism, what they’ve always known, instead of working to build up their sites as businesses:

“Unless they invest as much deliberate effort in building audience and revenues as they do into chasing stories, the journalists run the very real risk of going broke and/or wearing themselves out before they achieve the critical mass necessary to ensure the long-term viability of their ventures.”

• The sports fan blogging conglomerate SB Nation rolled out city-specific sites in six markets on Monday, with a total of 20 coming on line by the end of June. There’s plenty of passion and unabashed fandom but (the story doesn’t mention this) precious little compensation for bloggers. Says chairman Jim Bankoff:

“We are actually complementary from what newspapers do. We embrace fan bias. Newspapers focus on objective coverage — and when you combine the two, you get both perspectives.”

• Blogging wages aren’t much better for those penning their bylines at Examiner.com, but new media guru Jeff Jarvis has no use for old media hand-wringing about the subject:

“Pro-am is the future. . . . If you care about journalism, you should want more of it.”

Jarvis, by the way, pays his bills by consulting in globe-trotting fashion on topics like this one, and writing books that are hardly cheap, and certainly not free. Here’s what I wrote about his spat with Slate’s Ron Rosenbaum, who rather effectively and deliciously replied to Jarvis’ open contempt for working journalists.

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