Too few reputable mainstream media outlets cover the breadth of the creator landscape. Creators, in turn, fail the notability test used by Wikipedia editors to decide whether a given topic warrants its own article.
What does the Wikipedia landscape look like for creators? asks Catherine Yeo in her newsletter Creative Contemplation! Yeo’s exhaustive research posits that the answer is a vicious circle tethered to the notion of notability. Notability, in turn, centres on the frequency and the calibre of media outlet citation devoted to the creator.
If reputable mainstream media are not covering the breadth of the creator landscape then these creators will fail the notability test used by Wikipedia editors to decide whether a given topic warrants its own article.
In 2020 a Bella Poarch video went viral on TikTok. Never mind that the 24-year-old Filipina American’s video generated 55.2 million likes, The Guardian hadn’t written about her. Poarch, therefore, failed the notability test. Even when Poarch released a top-streamed single the Wikipedia editors remained ‘sniffy’ of her musical creds.
“If the third-most followed creator on an app that had ~700 million global users at the time is not notable enough for Wikipedia, then who is?” asks Yeo. The crux of the issue is two-fold: creators create their own notability. They are not reliant upon gatekeepers including mainstream media for their success. Mainstream is self referential.
Who cares if creator bios are not on Wikipedia?
Who cares if creator bios are not on Wikipedia? The answer, explains Yeo, is that “Wikipedia influences the media just as much as the media influences Wikipedia”.
Whether journalists admit to it or not they turn to Wikipedia when researching a subject. Lack of reference to the creator there is a potential red flag to the notability of the creator for the journalist’s readers.The tide, however, is turning within mainstream media. Increasingly the Financial Times covers the creator economy with a nuanced eye. Bloomberg, too. Taylor Lorenz burst from the Style section of the New York Times to bring influencer news to several of the newspaper's sections. She will, no doubt, to do the same at the Washington Post when she joins as a columnist in March. Insider, Buzzfeed and The Information all add detailed reporting to our burgeoning industry.
Speaking to UK-based journalism news site, Journalism.co.uk Chris Stokel-Walker explained: "Two or three years ago, you could probably count on two hands the number of digital cultural reporters. It's really exciting that that's ballooned a lot lately," adding, "It's a natural reflection of the fact that huge media platforms have large influence; people are starting to recognise that, and commission coverage of this space."
Amelia Tait, a freelance features writer specialising in digital culture reporting agrees with Stokel-Walker. "British newspapers just didn't bother to write stories about big scandals on YouTube and things like that. It was completely under the radar. Pitching those stories, I was able to get my foot in the door. Now it's an entire beat in its own right, and there are some phenomenal reporters who are just so tireless about uncovering these stories and reporting on them," she told Journalism.co.uk.