Today, news got out that storied music journalism institution MTV, an acronym that once stood for “Music Video Television,” were, per Variety, pivoting generating more video content. Correspondingly, the announcement brought with it cuts in the website’s reliance on longform or “written” content, as it’s called. This follows the departure of Dan Fierman at MTV’s News earlier this year; an alum of the similarly fallen Grantland, which also focused on the use of words to generate content as opposed to pictures of celebrities, which had been discontinued by its corporate overlords last year.
MTV, a Viacom subsidiary, had long been an iconic totem of music reportage for that world and beyond, ever since its early days of Kurt Loder holding a microphone and talking after that small two-second riff of Megadeath’s “Peace Sells” that MTV never exactly bought. Through a various series of rebranding campaigns, MTV’s news division had veered into the internet’s thrilling world of buzzy and occasionally-written coverage, competing with the likes of Buzzfeed and Vice. The kind of stylized writing that it pursued in its most recent cycle generated some of the most interesting content in the business, from Kaleb Horton’s sassy takes on millennium culture to the work of Darcie Wilder, who ran MTV News’ Twitter account, racking up over five million followers, more than Vice or Buzzfeed’s News Division combined. One of New York’s most idiosyncratic and on it online personalities, Wiilder’s writing has been described, by Kaitlyn Tiffany at The VergeThe Verge, as “the way people talk on the internet, but moving toward a point, instead of just filling the time and netting likes.”
(t seems this time, MTV is thinking of the children. Thank you, Getty.)
But those voices are gone now. Writing, as we all know, just don’t sell like them flashy videos. The follows a trend: in addition to the fall of Grantland, the popular longform content site Medium threw itself in the trash earlier this year. In a similar fashion, MTV News has, Variety notes, been suffering a large decline in clicks and its shift toward spending money on paying people to make fun punchy videos, like all the graph-y nonsense Vox does or the glowy stuff that Buzzfeed rips off people on YouTube is the way of the future, I guess.
Congratulations, film school grads. More of you can hustle your Final Cut Pro know how for Viacom now. Never mention Tarantino to me again.