Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Death by Blogs: Is the News Business Ready for Its Final Dismemberment?
However, what's new in the news business is that many of its core stars are jumping ship in greater numbers than ever before to create their own online news brands and to recreate old brands via new channels. David Pogue, formerly +The New York Times' lead tech blogger and reporter, and television's Katie Kouric moved over to Yahoo. Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg moved from The Wall Street Journal and their All Things Digital group to found re/code, their own coverage of the tech world. And according to Columbia Journalism Review, Ezra Klein is in talks to get funding for a new kind of news organization. The list goes on, but you get the picture: talent that's not having fun in the cutback-crazy world of mainstream journalism is looking at the risks of major changes or indie careers and making the jump enthusiastically. This is a shift that I forecasted many years ago on ContentBlogger, and the finances and technology of online news have progressed to the point that it's now a pandemic trend.
+Flipboard, +Zite Media and Google Newsstand promise easy auto-curation of news from various sources in slick apps that enable content producers to make money. So for every interesting new news Web site coming along on the Web, there's a posey of pretty and highly functional ways to consume the news with, not to mention social media channels in which to promote it. A tweet on Twitter from the NYT looks pretty much the same as a tweet from you or me, so the value of personal brands to promote news stories virally only helps to amplify this trend.
Competition from new technologies such as radio and television provided further centralization in the 20th century. But now in the 21st century the Web has reduced radically the capital requirements for news startups, and so our news choices resemble the old world of Fleet Street much more than the world of news a few decades ago.
So will every one of these superstars gone indie or nu-skool succeed? Of course not. But that's not the point. The point is that a publishing system that does not enable them to follow their dreams more effectively is one that's likely to continue to lose brand value and capital resources. Until then, as long as these folks can park their dreams on WordPress and Google AdSense, the slow dismemberment of major news media companies will continue.