Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Selfie selfie selfie

One of the topics I've returned to frequently over the past nearly five years I've been doing my Nine to Noon slot is visitor photography in art galleries. Over that time it's gone from no-no to near normal.

Over the last few months I've spotted an ample handful of articles discussing the great selfie-stick ban of 2015. Most museums and galleries ban tripods and other camera equipment that's bulky and has potential to accidentally damage work or obstruct other visitors, and selfie-sticks are the same. I've avoided talking about this 'new development' in the camera wars because it feels like a beat-up.

Now Koven J. Smith has done a great job of articulating that feeling in this blog post for the Blanton Museum:

But “museums liberalizing photography policies” isn’t a great story for the media, because that story doesn’t make conspicuous use of the popular search term “selfie.” 
I seriously doubt that any of the reporters covering The Ban truly think this is big news. But they (and their editors) do know that any article with the word “selfie” in the title is likely to have waaaaay more page views than an article that doesn’t. And page views and clicks are what matter—the actual story being told is largely irrelevant. It didn’t matter if the real story was “museums are finally allowing photography,” because the hook that would get users to click the link was the word “selfie,” and that’s the quote-unquote angle most of the media went with.

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