One of the greatest changes in the media business, since I began my career as a journalist in the mid-aughts, is what I call “news deflation”—the phenomenon in which the fierce competition between reporters to get their stories in the next day’s paper, or onto the evening news, was gradually replaced by an endless, minute-to-minute mandate to produce digital “content.” Alas, the threshold for publishing stories collapsed, as did average news value. Reporters were forced onto a treadmill of content creation to generate pageviews and programmatic advertising, not serve the needs of readers.
Like many writers of my generation, I could recall a more distinguished era. Long before I was a devoted Puck reader, I was a rabid Vanity Fair loyalist, dating back to a George Clooney cover when I was in 8th grade. So it piqued my curiosity when I heard that some of the V.F. crew were assembling a new outfit. Moreover, people I had grown up with in political journalism circles were heading there—Peter Hamby, Tara Palmeri, Teddy Schleifer—as were other reporters whom I’d admired from afar—Matt Belloni, Dylan Byers, Julia Ioffe, Tina Nguyen, and more.
Pretty quickly, I became a quiet Puck loyalist—watching for the nightly The Best & The Brightest emails, listening to The Powers That Be podcast on my way out the door each morning, scanning the website each day.