For a start, this kind of reporting doesn’t obey any of the four golden rules of attention-seeking: novelty, controversy, celebrity and sex. Another way of putting it is: they’re boring, written by boring people and they cover boring subjects.
Let’s be honest: this stuff is written for other journalists. If you’ve signed up to a life of crafting explainer tabs for Vox, or landed a gig at the Guardian writing for its datablog, good for you. But know that your work will only ever be read by dorks.
Look at the three big explainer sites. Vox, FiveThirtyEight, The Upshot. What do they all have in common? All of them originate from one side of the divide. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying they’re bad because they’re liberal. I’m just saying they have editorial priorities that ignore 50 per cent of the population. You know, the “ordinary” people, who don’t stay up until 2.00 a.m. rage-commenting on Jezebel.
So-called “actually” journalism doesn’t speak to these people because it doesn’t use the language of emotion or common sense, as most of us do in most of our lives.