Silicon Alley Insider becoming Business Insider, TechCrunch model, 2 million readers, but facing same ad challenges as everyone else. Not a "lifecaster," but real journaism. Still, a new form of journalism is evolving. Old style is to take existing content and to throw it online, reading it online is great, but that's not the real form of online journalism looks like, with strengths and weaknesses.
Aggregation is the key to the new journalism, the very act of aggregation can be valuable. High-velocity production, more similar to broadcasting, like a "text broadcast" (COMMENT: read, "real-time." Again, Wall Street's real-time legacy comes into the online news world). Some say it's garbage, that it will all fail, but if you hear that Steve Jobs is sick you're going to check it out and see if it's credible. There are plenty of people who know that it's true, and it helps to get the truth out more quickly. A source said that there's going to be a massive layoff, in short order we got a lot more information that this was indeed going to happen. Access is great, but on the other hand, when employees contact you with information and emails, access is less important. A lot of the readers will know a lot more than a journalist will know.
People want "snackable" content, see what's happened in the last hour. He wrote an article for the Atlantic magazine, good topic, lots of readership, but nothing like the first Twitter of the video of the rescue of the plane that went down in the Hudson. Online journalism is taking sound, text, video, it's not one medium or another. Gawker pushes this furthest, has eight TiVos capturing shows where someone might say something interesting, then clipping it for online. It's different from MarketWatch and TheStreet.com, which were more online newspaper models.
Huffington Post bigger than the Boston Globe, they find the most interesting stories on the Web, it's cost-effective, which the Boston Globe is not. Gawker Media blog network was twice that of the LA Times. Total team: 80 people, LAT 800. Can't support that kind of newsroom with that kind of traffic, Nick Denton is way ahead. But still big problems, online readers think that everthing should be free. That has got to change, just not enough advertising. Ads haven't evolved, same little box ads, shouldn't have to mimic a newspaper (COMMENT: or a television). People complain nobody clicks on the ads, but we have done almost nothing to innovate. Advertisers only care about clicks, a great ad without a click is viewed as a failure, yet in print nobody clicks and people consider those ads successful.
But the problems are far worse for traditional media. Newspapers have had a great 200 year run, but now it's over. Disruptive technologies are not necessarily better, many products created with it are miles short of The New York Times, but it's cheaper and gradually it gets better. In the meantime the old technology pushes towards premium users with more expensive technology, pretty soon they're pushed out of the mass markets. Google is pushing Microsoft to the high end, won't stop Google's onslaught. The cost of producing online journalism is so much lower, HuffPo 20 editorial staff, Gawker only $15 million while NYT is $1+ billion, profits from lower costs are working. Craigslist is free, unlimited real estate, a lot of traditional publishing companies are hosed. But some do well, like Bloomberg, Dow Jones doing well, the NYT can be saved but will have to cut 40 percent of the cost and re-explore charging for online (COMMENT: yes, but not through the old models. Micropayments will be the way, we can pick up the New York Post for a quarter at the newsstand, micropayments will work if done neutrally).
Journalism is in great shape, will look different but it will be in great shape. There are vastly more journalists than ever before, experts can express their opinion online. Editors need to co through this, some are paid to be editors, others comment on others (COMMENT: or link to it in blogs, what Robin Good calls "Newsmasters." In today's world "Deep Throat" would have sent documents to "The Smoking Gun" and it would have all been online. Papers will continue to get hammered, some will adapt, many are already writing real-time, but they will survive (COMMENT: Maybe). Online journalism will continue to grow, some will build sustainable models, will develop more professional talent, will hire credible journalists, the only thing that will change is that the shareholders of existing companies will get hammered. Creating destruction will bring us to the better future.
COMMENT: Overall, completely spot on. This is the new role of media today, though I think that he underplays the role of on-site expertise, which is a definition that varies with events. For example, sometimes a lawyer or a stock analyst with a blog will be an on-site expert about events in their profession, other times a laborer in China who happens to be near the epicenter of a major earthquake who is equipped with Twitter will be the expert. Expertise is becoming more contextual, but the truth is always larger than a journalist. I do think that CQ's Bob Merry's outlook is closer to the greater truth - we've had journalism in its current form only for about two hundred years, it will continue to be a good profession in its own way but the aggregation of news is taking its place in many aspects, making insight from on-site facts more important.
Labels: Blodgett, events, SIIA Information Industry Summit 2009