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The State Of The Union Generated A Lot Of Useless Content About The State Of The Union

Will Federman |
January 20, 2015 | 11:37 p.m. PST


Depending on what website you refreshed on your smartphone today, thoughts on President Obama’s State of the Union address wavered between not “completely useless” (in spite of spoilers) and a garbage speech written by dumb hacks. But no matter where you looked, the build-up to the actual speech led to a torrential downpour of useless content on the social web about the State of the Union.

SEE ALSO: Obama Gives 6th State Of The Union Address

People wrote about how to make the State of the Union more exciting. People wrote about how to make the State of the Union into a drinking game. People wrote about places where you could watch the State of the Union. People even wrote about about the types of jokes typically articulated during the State of the Union.

It was like an exercise in good SEO habits for many newsrooms, but a painful experience for anyone on Twitter this afternoon.

But no one was more guilty than The Washington Post, which ran stories such as “Who will fall asleep during the State of the Union address tonight?” and “The 4 kinds of people who watch the State of the Union” (to be fair, this post was actually kind of interesting). And after the paper was done subjecting Google’s web crawlers to index fatigue, the legacy outlet told its audience “Let’s play State of the Union Bingo, tech edition” (let’s not).

This kind of event-driven spectacle exposes the worst habits of digital newsrooms. Some organizations, like Vox, spent the afternoon publishing contextual history and some original commentary (yet still fell victim to State of the Union party games). But as Anthony DeRosa, Editor-in-Chief at Circa, mentioned on Twitter, does anyone “normal” actually read all of this garbage?

Judging from the cold calculus of television ratings — which show a dwindling number of people willing to subject themselves to the annual Beltway spectacle — probably not. And that's okay, because the state of my Twitter feed is exhausted.


Reach Editor-in-Chief Will Federman here. And follow him on Twitter.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.