Okay. Here's a little story. Around a year ago we were doing a lot of freelance writing, growing unpersuasive facial hair and trying to figure out what to do with ourselves now that we had bailed out of the world of high yield finance. One of the things that kept us entertained during this period was a quirky little online video sharing community called YouTube.
We liked it so much we even pitched a story about it to the New York Times. To our surprise, the Times loved the idea and told us to bring them a story in two weeks. This turned out to be harder than we thought, in part because the users of the still young YouTube community were very wary of outsiders emailing them and asking questions.
One then-prominent YouTuber answered our inquiries with this:
But how can i REALLY know you're from the new york times? you know, strangers on-line tend to lie...
Example: sometimes when they say that they are female when they are chatting ... they are really male... ;)
I hope you understand where i'm coming from...
But by far our favorite response was this one:
lol NY Times, ok dude. Sure I'll call you, then next thing I know we're in the back seat of your car behind a McDonald's and you claim that you 'forgot' the rubbers but it's okay because you've 'had a vasectomy' and your case of scabies has 'cleared up'.
The Wall Street Journal would've been a better line.
We did finally get the story, and it ran in the Times under the headline "People Who Watch People: Lost in an Online Hall of Mirrors." It was a bright and shining moment in our fledgling freelance writing career. Not only had we landed a byline in the Times, we had written one of the first articles in a mainstream media outlet about a cutting edge technology we were sure was going to be huge. We were journalists, cutting-edge, trend-defining journalists. And we were very happy about it.
Then Google bought YouTube. And even the receptionist got rich. Suddenly writing about cutting edge technologies didn't seem like such a bright idea.
The next time we discover the Next Big Thing we're not pitching anyone any damn stories about it. We're going to work for them. Even if it means we're sorting the mail or ordering post-it notes. Because it is just too expensive not to be Shannon Hermes.
YouTube's making millionaires in the lower ranks [MarketWatch via CrossingWallStreet]