Lena Dunham and Lenny: Self-Publishing Celebrities as News Competition
J Thoendell stashed this in Film
What at first blush seemed a cute side gig may not have The New York Times cowering in terror quite yet. But what Dunham has quickly accomplished raises the prospect that a recent rash of celebrity excursions into digital-style vanity press shouldn’t be so easily dismissed.
It used to be so simple: Publications like The Times and stars like Dunham sat on separate sides of a tidy, mutually beneficial ecosystem. Mainstream press was the only place where celebrities’ latest exploits were advertised or were lucky enough to merit editorial coverage. Press reaped revenue, while stars got promotion.
But those days are over, and they have been for a while now. The rise of social media saw to that, giving celebrities the ability to do an end run around middlemen like, yes, even Variety, to speak directly to consumers unfliltered. We middlemen still have our charms, but Dunham knows better than anybody the influence she can wield with just a sentence or two accompanying a photo on Instagram.
Now a new generation of celebrities use platforms like Twitter and Snapchat to move the masses, but some like Dunham are taking it to the next level. They are launching what are essentially niche publications molded in their image that take the content experience deeper than just 140 characters.