‘The Secret Lives of Tumblr Teens’ and 5 Stories You Should ReadBy Contently February 19th, 2016
Here’s what you missed while wondering how Apple became a champion for human rights…
New Republic: The Secret Lives of Tumblr Teens
Selected by Carly Miller, editorial intern
Elspeth Reeve, senior editor at the New Republic, dives into the angsty, absurdist, and brilliant universe of Tumblr teen stardom. Using emotional intelligence and wit, Internet-savvy teens are rapidly earning virality—and, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars—with relatable content. Sure beats slaving away in retail for pocket change.
In this comprehensive article, Reeve follows the volatile career of stars like Lilley and Greenfield, as well as the elusive Pizza, to learn the secrets of teenage content creators who Tumblr’s head of culture believes “are better marketers than anyone in the game right now.”
Selected by Joe Lazauskas, editor-in-chief
This week, I’m claiming the requisite “story that has absolutely nothing to do with media and marketing” spot. This longform piece dives inside the power struggle over which NFL team would relocate to Los Angeles. You don’t have to be a football fan to love it. All you need is an interest in the inner lives of batshit crazy billionaires. Jerry Jones really needs his own TV show.
The Atlantic: Go Set a Legacy: The Fate of Harper Lee
Selected by Erin Nelson, marketing editor
The first time I read To Kill a Mockingbird, I was convinced I would go to law school and become a justice-seeking saint like Atticus Finch. When I found out last year that he would return as a racist in the sequel, Go Set a Watchman, I felt an immediate sense of loss—then gratitude—for his creator, Harper Lee, who understood that achievement is complex and that human experienced is nuanced and sometimes shameful.
This piece is a tribute to the legacy of Nelle Harper Lee, whose creative contribution was both outstanding and mediocre, whose personal achievements mimic the complexity of her characters—but who also left an imprint on American literature for creating its greatest hero, then destroying him, at a time when race relations in U.S. are constantly being reexamined.
Selected by Kieran Dahl, social media editor
At first, you think this is a short story, with its lyricism and second-person narrative in the opening paragraph. Then you think it’s one of those standard coming-of-age-as-a-creative-person tales: the hopeful dreamer who struggles but ultimately achieves success through hard work and a dash of luck. You read on and begin to think that maybe it’s just a tenuously connected series of vignettes about wild, bohemian New York City in the mid-’90s.
But once you finish the piece, you realize that John Wray, the writer, is anyone with creative dreams. His writer’s block is the universal, paralyzing insecurities people feel about their own talents. And New York City in the ’90s is wherever anyone is trying to be successful. You realize that this piece is about becoming yourself, and that it’s really, really good.
Selected by Brian Maehl, talent development manager
Not that there was any doubt, but Gmail has clearly won the world of email. If you have an account through Yahoo!, Hotmail, or any other provider, you can now sync it with Google to use Gmail’s convenient and robust features. A decade ago, it would have been incredibly unlikely for competitors in a new market to integrate with one another.
However, despite Gmail’s popularity, I imagine that members of the Hotmail and Yahoo! crowds are less worried about having to change their email address and more concerned with having to adopt a new interface. It will be interesting to see if this integration leads to any significant changes.
The Walrus: Above the Fold
Selected by Jordan Teicher, senior editor
Americans think that Canada is a beautiful place full of peace, universal healthcare, and poutine. And that may be true, but when it comes to the press, the country sounds like a dysfunctional mess.
Margo Goodhand’s article on Canada’s failing news industry combines firsthand experience with sharply distilled reporting that explains how a once thriving industry has gone desolate. After corporate wheeling and dealing, one company now owns 214 Canadian newspapers, and in an effort to cut costs, it set up an infrastructure that essentially turns the country’s entire press system into a wire service. Competition is gone. Papers print the same articles. Layoffs are widespread. Worst of all, nobody really cares.
The New York Times: Zenefits Scandal Highlights Perils of Hypergrowth at Startups
Selected by Sam Slaughter, VP of content
This Farhad Manjoo story on the rise and fall of Zenefits, and the perils of rapid growth in Silicon Valley, really struck a chord with me. As Contently has grown from five employees to 100 people, it’s really been striking to see how the attitude of execs filters down into the rest of the company. I’m sure Zenefits CEO Parker Conrad never told anyone to break the law, but the mindset of Sell shit now, figure out if it’s legal later—which is so prevalent in high-growth tech companies—clearly trickled down to his employees, with disastrous consequences.
Venture-backed tech companies tend to be about growth at all costs, but they shouldn’t be. Growth is good, but if it comes at the expense of a company’s culture—not to mention the law—it’s time for the execs to take a long, hard look in the mirror. The world would be a better place if more companies (particularly tech companies) had a greater mission than just making money.