Writer on Your Show? Show the Writing

Netflix’ great House of Cards has this character named Zoe Barnes who writes for a political news website called “Slugline.”

In the wake of the NSA’s PRISM wiretapping controversy, I went looking for slugline.com. Nothing. What an obvious missed transmedia opportunity!

Yes, some fans are having fun on Twitter but it doesn’t appear directed – yet.

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It wouldn’t take much effort to maintain an online presence at Slugline.com. The payoffs could be great fun for the audience. In the show, there are interesting political intrigue bits mentioned in passing about the political context of that world, many of which serve to paint a fuller picture of the characters’ tense lives. Because the writing is so good, many threads are picked up in subsequent episodes, they converge and become plot points. But lots of these political tidbits don’t rise to that level. These could be used as set-ups for online payoffs which are focused via Slugline.com.

The show mentions that characters Janine Skorsky and Zoe Barnes are reporters working on stories – these stories should be there! I would have loved to read more about glossed-over plot points like the suicide of Peter Russo. It would be easy (as it is) to report-on-the-reports and parrot press releases like so many news outlets do for real life political issues. If Slugline did that, but focused on the issues that end up being featured on the show (the issue of Education Reform was a MacGuffin during season one), the site would serve to foreshadow as well as drop backstory Easter Eggs.

On stories relating to America’s shadow government like this NSA scandal, issues which exist irrespective of White House or Congressional leadership, Zoe Barnes and Slugline could fire away. The goal would have been to get Slugline to, if not break news, then be a player in selfie-journalism’s pithy commentary trope. Obviously it would have been a great way to keep fan appetites whetted before season two.

Is the website fake? Obviously. Does anybody mistake House of Cards for a documentary? It’s just as obvious when talking about transmedia peripheries.

Hell, thinking outside the box, stories on Slugline could be sponsored using the Buzzfeed monetization model. At the very least, the domain could have redirected to Netflix.com. But nothing? Come on. Just a little effort and people will love you for it. You’ll nurture your superfans and they’ll send every piece of content you make out into the internets, like pieces of sweet bait, to hook new viewers.

In a related wish, Hannibal got a second season so I’m still hoping Bryan Fuller puts up an actual www.tattlecrime.com website for his blogger character Freddie Lounds. Her character bio is: “Trashy tabloid blogger and aspiring journalist Freddie Lounds is as driven, ambitious and cunning as she is unscrupulous, stopping at nothing to get her story.”

Prove it. She sounds interesting, but SHOW me how unscrupulous, trashy, and how driven her crime-blogging is. Not a roleplaying fan blog thing, really build Lounds’ website in her writing voice. What they teach in film school is just as true when talking about transmedia storytelling. Don’t just say it. Show it.

Categories: technology, transmedia

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