The mainstream media lost the Depp-Heard trial

At the same time, a new media class has exploded: creators and influencers working all the lanes, from lifestyle fluff to political opinion to citizen court reporters. Critical and suspicious of the stuffy traditional media, these social-media accounts comment on and sometimes even start the biggest conversations of the moment. They post fast and often — sometimes hundreds of times a day — and don’t have to pretend they’re objective. In fact, they’ve shown that news consumers are delighted when they pick sides. The most successful of them are sophisticated visual storytellers who know how to captivate an audience — and, as we’ve seen this spring, they have no qualms about flogging a famous woman…

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The mainstream media noticed the frenzy only once it was in full swing. In essays and op-eds, we chastised these influencer detectives (Click Tracys?), who were seemingly hearing different testimony than we were. Their reach and vitriol was, for many of us, shocking. Any given Depp-stanning TikToker camped outside the courthouse may reach many times more readers than the newspaper staffer dutifully covering the trial. We were busy believing women, while women online were calling for Heard’s head — and they, more than us, were shaping the general public’s understanding of the trial.

There is, so far, only one proven fact in digital publishing: The more you publish the more successful you are. Nearly every influential success, from Trump to the New York Times to DeuxMoi, is based on frequency and constancy.

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