The Fall And Rise Of Media

David Carr has a good post this morning in the New York Times called The Fall and Rise Of Media.

The post starts out with the old way of the media business. Kids would come to NYC out of school and work in marginal jobs in the hopes of getting a break and joining the "velvet rope" of mainstream media.

And the post ends describing what kids do today:

Somewhere down in the Flatiron, out in Brooklyn, over in Queens or up
in Harlem, cabals of bright young things are watching all the
disruption with more than an academic interest. Their tiny netbooks and
iPhones, which serve as portals to the cloud, contain more
informational firepower than entire newsrooms possessed just two
decades ago. And they are ginning content from their audiences in the
form of social media or finding ways of making ambient information more
useful. They are jaded in the way youth requires, but have the
confidence that is a gift of their age as well.

David has it about right. I've watched this transformation and helped to finance it (and his first job in NYC too at but that's a different story). I believe the move from a velvet rope model to a meritocracy is a good thing and that the new media business we are building in the wake of the old one will be a better media business; leaner, faster, and controlled more by users than media moguls.

I realize that the change is gut wrenching and many have lost jobs and careers in the process. I don't celebrate that. In fact, I find it upsetting. But I have also watched many reinvent themselves and come out in a better place too. Change is inevitable and we are better off embracing it than fighting it.

As David says, "It’s a wan reminder that all reigns are temporary". This one will be as well. So let's get on with it.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Darren Herman

    A fantastic article indeed. The quote “It’s a wan reminder that all reigns are temporary” is excellent and hits the nail on the head.

    1. ADstruc

      Exactly, Darren. That quote was also my favorite. Fred, you also hit the nail on the head with your closing point of “This one will be as well. So let’s get on with it.”We’ll all create opportunities during this new shift, make some money, and then jump ship to higher grounds.

  2. phoneranger

    The old media business was at its core a mouthpiece for the corporations that promoted the consumer culture that dominated the US economy since WWII. Based largely on the size of the advertising budget rather than anyone’s idea of intrinsic value, new things were promoted for Americans to buy (preferably with credit). This consumer culture promoted by the marketing-advertising-media complex was responsible for the gross imbalances in the US economy much more than sub-prime mortgages or the undervalued yuan. Because the US consumer is essentially broke, it’s neither realistic nor wise to expect the hyper-efficient new media economy growing out in Bushwick or Long Island City can replicate that advertising-dependent model. Thye’ll probably have to figure out a more direct transactional model where consumers (not ad agencies) become the media buyers. And where writers, artists and other content mfgrs. become the destination media outlets. I have no idea if this will work. Hasn’t so far.

    1. ShanaC

      And people like me will love it.

    2. Edwin Watkeys

      When I get hit with this much Thomas Frank and Naomi Campbell styled ranting in such a short time, I start to feel ill. The dose makes the poison, as Paracelsus said. And so it is in this case. Sure, the economics of media influence what is published, distributed, etc., but your reductive assertion that the old media were (are?) a corporate mouthpiece ignores all of the awkward facts that don’t fit.The post-war history of the media is filled with examples of people who have done things that aren’t in the economic best interests, or have come to terms with economic reality and have tried to balance their desire to create work they can be proud of with their desire to put food on the table.The magazines that have recently shut down were many of that most cynical attempts to create dream audiences for advertisers. People are not the passive rubes you want them to be, waiting for you and your Marxist pals to save them. (I am curious: What is your plan to save them?)If people are broke, I don’t know how you expect them to pay for any content, at all whether it’s directly through subscriptions or indirectly by subsidizing content through advertisers.My personal take on what’s going on is that there’s too much unnecessary overhead in a lot of these old businesses, and we’re watching new businesses provide ninety percent of the value of the old businesses at ten percent of the cost. How much of what the Philadelphia Inquirer does is worth doing if I have EveryBlock, a bunch of blogs, and Craigslist? If the Inquirer didn’t exist, we’d be a poorer community, but not all that more poor.Google AdWords is a great example of cutting a business model off at its kneecaps. A lot of ad agencies were (are?) pissed off because it changed marketing from primarily a relationship-oriented business with lots of golf playing or coke snorting or lap dances or what-have-you into a quantitative, mathematical process. It was very interesting being at e-commerce start-ups (CDNOW, in ’99, as the balance of power shifted decisively in favor of the direct response, qualitative, CPA folks at the expense of the slick, brand-oriented, CPM folks.

      1. phoneranger

        Jeesh did I love CDnow back in the day esp. when they gave you 5 CDs for the price of 2. Sweet. Ah but no one sells CDs anymore ‘cuz no one buys them.Anyway I’m not a Marxist (although I am giving Naxalitism some thought.) If you read my later post you’ll see that I am most deeply concerned not with loser consumers sitting underwater in their exurban sub-prime soon-to-be-shotgun-shacks but rather with CPGers like P&G. How are you going to fix their predicament? Got a solution for them, Google Adsense Boy? Doubt it.

      2. COMRADITY

        “If people are broke, I don’t know how you expect them to pay for any content, at all whether it’s directly through subscriptions or indirectly by subsidizing content through advertisers.”New Media aimed for a share of the advertising revenues by being another distribution point for content which originated on other media. Not a very sustainable business model when advertising revenue declined by double digits over the past 2 years.But, consumer spending on “communications” continues to grow. In fact, consumer spending surpassed ad revenues in 2003. Cable and wireless subscriptions must command a significant share of the consumer wallet.And all they get is the “hope” that you’ll find something you’ll want because you are paying for access, a utility, essentially. There’s opportunity to offer something more consumer oriented and compete for those dollars, don’t you think?There are many ways affiliate network sales, digital direct marketing could be leveraged to connect the most receptive individuals to the right programming. And interactive technology has a lot of possibilities to add value to individuals who want to do more than just watch.So I guess I think this talk about getting consumers to pay is not a desperate act. Maybe it’s an opportunity to compete against access providers for a piece of a growing pie instead of fighting over the crumbs of a shrinking pie.K-

        1. ShanaC

          As I said, that’s logical. You have to hook information up to a service, or to a product. Information on its own is nearly impossible to price, and as information loses friction between two partners in the market place, that is what will happen.

  3. theschnaz

    Did you see this article in The Economist? The future of entertainmentMiddle-class struggle…I thought of that as I was reading this post. New media companies will be leaner and faster, but there will be a whole lot more of them too. The article brings up the point that the more options people have, the more important “blockbusters” are. If you have 50,000 options, which do you choose? Most will pick whatever is popular; we already see this in the app store.What’s missing here are useful filters and recommendations. The more choices a person has, the more important personalized and relevant filters are. I don’t think people will need to spend a lot of time digging through 1,000’s of options just to find a few good ones, or settle for the most popular ones.The importance and value created by good filters and recommendation engines will only grow.

    1. Mark Essel

      Yeah there’s a big value horizon in personalized search. It’s an exciting shift of catering tools to empower the individual, versus crafting corporate funnels.

      1. theschnaz

        I’d like to see more progress in filters/recommendations in the music, app and educational shows/movies areas. It’s hard to find new music that’s actually good, the app store is a mess, and most people aren’t interested in educational shows (The Universe on Hulu is great).

    2. the build

      Yea this is a no brainer — naturally people are going to want to make the web experience “smaller” — the mass market is going to come around to that within the next two years and personalized web dashboards, readers and all kinds of stuff will come into play as internet users become more savvy and seek to pull the experience towards them versus pushing themselves out to it. Eventually, the platform’s going to get smaller too — that’ll change a lot as well.

      1. theschnaz

        I think most people can envision what you’re saying. It sounds obvious, so it gets dismissed, but there hasn’t been all that much progress made in terms of filters/recommendations.Take music and restaurants for example. I find it extremely difficult to find new music, or to turn on a source and just listen. I use Pandora,,, and I’ve used iTunes. I thought the genius mixes in iTunes was killer, but it only played music I already owned.For restaurants… good luck. It’s almost impossible to find good recommendations online. Yelp helps by adding additional context, you’d know if the place was a dud or not. When I go to a new restaurant it’s usually because a friend takes me, I’ve seen it before and it looked cool or a friend recommended it.The simplest things can be the hardest get right.

        1. fredwilson

          True. But foursquare has potential wrt restaurants. Someone can write a glowing review, but even better is if a friend I know and trust has checked in there a half dozen times.

          1. theschnaz

            I agree, foursquare has potential in this area. To me, the source of the recommendation is just as important as the recommendation itself.

        2. ShanaC

          It’s a people problem…

    3. ShanaC

      I think there is a potential for a mess here. All you have to do is muck up the metadata, both the public and the private, and bam, something will happen.It’s not as much as there is 50,000 opinions as what those opinions say, so you could crowdsource around the idea of messing it up on purpose. And I keep thinking I should do an art project based on this idea, because of delicious, purposely wrong metadata. Which needs a lot of people.No matter what filter you put in, the filter itself isn’t as important as what the data is, unfortunately this starts back with the human problem (ontology at its worst…)

  4. ATrueGolfer

    This is nothing new. Executives sitting in the major media corporations should know and should have known that this transition is occurring. One must adapt.

  5. Nick Giglia

    Great post, Fred. The fall of “mainstream” media and the rise of both smaller outlets and citizen journalism is a great disruption to how things used to be, and it’s clear many media companies are scrambling to adapt in any way we can. We see this now with content providers who always had their portals for free now hiding behind a paywall. Newsday, the paper I grew up reading, is one of these, but they miss the key value driver in this new economy. All they did was move what they had (which has deteriorated badly) behind a paywall. Instead of offering something for which I’d happily pay, they tried to make me feel like a thief for using their web site the way it was designed for all those years. This sort of a model is unsustainable, and it’s become clear as citizen journalists have been destroying Newsday and other outlets both in speed of response and, in some cases, quality of analysis.I also wonder if the death of traditional media has something to do with how politically polarized this country has sadly become. It seems that the internet has made it easier for fringe beliefs to take hold, and it is also much easier for people of any persuasion to slip into an echo chamber and hear only what they want to hear. I wonder what consequences this will have, and I wonder how best to adapt to that part of the new paradigm.

    1. Mark Essel

      Wasn’t a big part of mainstream media a big echo chamber? I’m overwhelmed by all the rich reading choices I have at my finger tips.Not knowing who is the best authority on any story forces me to review diverse perspectives. It’s wonderful as an info consumer.

      1. Nick Giglia

        That’s the other side of the argument, and the path that many people are taking, which is good to see.

    2. the build

      I can’t agree with any of this mindset. The world has not changed. Just the platform. I’ll bet every designer shoe in my closet (and there are a lot) that everybody will see this in the future.

      1. awaldstein

        Your shoes won’t fit me but i think over time I”ll win the wager ;)The fantastic thing about the social web and the reversal of power from the companies to the individual is that yes, I think, people are changing and the world with them. Slowly though.Human behavior is adopting to empowerment of the individual and the crowds and expecting more, expecting to be in control, and evolving with them. Not science fiction and not overnight, but yes, this will start to prove itself out.

        1. the build

          Well you could ebay them… :)There hasn’t been nearly as much reversal of power as people think, or that there could be. Why did Obama’s campaign leverage TV and old 1.0 internet technology like email marketing over social media if this were so? People are changing and the world with them, but people are staying the same too. Does the public want that much control? Not really. They want what they want, they want it convenient, etc. I think we will find a different world in the future, but people as a whole will largely be same as they ever were.but more importantly, basic business rules have not changed historically over platforms and likely won’t now. it’s not to say elements of the business won’t change, but you still have to create a customer base for a product if you want to be successful, charge people for it if you want to make money, people will be willing to pay for it if it has value to them, etc. Same world, different platform 🙂

          1. awaldstein

            Ahh, the conversation that won’t get resolved.To beat this one more time, when people are empowered, they change and demand more. Fundamentally, sure we are the same with needs for shoes, skiing, status and money. But how we approach buying is different now that the power has shifted to the hands of the consumer, which it has. And smart companies treat us different and prosper from that.P & L statements of course haven’t changed but how you impart value to your customers, how you find customers and your ability to be successful without huge budgets have fundementally changed from my view. Some thoughts around this at platform, same people with evolving attitudes and behaviors;)

          2. Mark Essel

            Heck yeah Arnold you tell her ;).”when people are empowered, they change and demand more. Fundamentally, sure we are the same with needs for shoes, skiing, status and money. But how we approach buying is different now that the power has shifted to the hands of the consumer, which it has. And smart companies treat us different and prosper from that.”There’s no question that this shift has occurred for millions of consumers. Yeah, there’s plenty of folks that are TV driven by ads but that population cluster is on the decline relative to the “new consumer”. The new consumer has a close relationship with those they shop from. I think it’s starting with information consumption, and will shift to everything we buy. Consumers like choice, and we can rely on social connections to uncover the pearls.

          3. COMRADITY

            Hey Patricia, I agree with you. Consumers are basically still the same. And as far as mainstream media being dead – I wouldn’t count on it. Consumers who have always wanted to be a part of the game (Picture those guys who wait forever to get on the radio sports call-in shows) still are. The people who just wanted to watch, still do. New Media really hasn’t changed much either . . . yet . . .Content creators – small or large – still work as slaves. Because noone has figured out how to price and sell “ideas” yet. Google tries to break them down into bits of data so an algorithm can tell an individual what they will like. But the larger value of the arts eludes logic. Overwhelmed with abundant choices, individuals consume only what resonates with their personal bias, resulting in a more polarized society, culture, and politics.So far, new media has avoided the challenge of pricing and selling ideas by replicating traditional media’s business models which generate revenues from the derivative value of “ideas” – selling exposure to the eyeballs “ideas” attract and by selling “access”. “Old Media” is probably “getting” that the business model has to change before “New Media” is:Now that new media efficiencies have deflated the derivative values (advertising and access) of all media, Old media publishers/programmers (who are looking enviously at HBO which everyone said would fail with its commitment to quality content and belief that individuals would subscribe for it) are facing the challenge of pricing and selling “ideas” directly to consumers. The alternative is an untapped goldmine: Amazon proved and Netflix validated for the entertainment industry that lots of little transactions can be scaled up efficiently and predictably by taking advantage of targeting, engaging those folks who want to contribute, affiliate sales networks, bundling microtransactions together, and converting trial to subscriptions through relationship management technology. Publishers/Programming companies aren’t ignorant to this alternative. But until the ad market bottomed out, it was just a lot easier to call on a few ad agency holding companies than sell to lots of consumers, individually. Wallstreet is finally asking big media to figure out how to get a share consumer spending for media which surpassed advertising spending in 2003.Net: Patricia’s right. These big corporations are not going to go away. Once they set their resources on this objective they will figure out how to price and market “ideas”. It will be very hard to compete against them. This is a situation where you want to be friends not enemies. Katherine Warman Kern@comradity

          4. fredwilson

            I compete against the wsj and nyt every day for audience and am doing fine (albeit on a smaller scale). And I monetize my media business without ads (the ad revenue I generate goes to charity). I monetize it with influence, insight, and deal flow. It works greatThat’s what the big media companies have to compete with going forward. And they can’t compete on that basisit doesn’t only work in finance/tech/business. It works with recipes too. And cars. And sports. And on and on and on

          5. ShanaC

            That’s cause your Fred. 😉

          6. awaldstein

            I’m with you all the way on this Fred.I talk to young entrepreneurs all the time and they are attacking and building businesses to target every part of the ‘undisintermediated’ infrastructure.It is amazing to me there are smart folks who see the status quo as just that. It just isn’t anymore.

          7. COMRADITY

            Certainly didn’t mean to suggest that big programming and publishing companies will maintain the status quo. The point is they are now compelled to pursue new revenue streams in ways they’ve never done before.

          8. awaldstein

            Thanks for the clarification.

          9. COMRADITY

            Indeed you’ve done very well, Fred.I do think the tide is changing direction. No worries for anyone who is developing original content. In fact, I suspect, as happens when market leaders expand a category with a bold new strategy (i.e., new sources of revenue), all boats rise with the tide.K-

          10. phoneranger

            Sure the C2C media can work for select VCs but not for the entire vertical. And it can work for some restaurants and bars but not all. But that’s not really a problem as niche businesses have never relied on media as their primary promotional channel. It’s a different story for the giant CPG companies. With large scale media outlets fragmenting and failing, where does Procter turn. How does Clorox get the word out about its new Ranch dressing? (Did you know Clorox makes salad dressing?). The large media geese have already been cooked. Where do large advertisers turn?

          11. COMRADITY

            They are filling the void by publishing consumer-oriented communities centered around a relevant context to their brands. For example, P&G – PEPSI – Musica (with more in the pipeline from many brands).This “custom digital community publishing” will continue to suck $ from advertising at a faster pace. Which is why I predict you will see major publishing and programming companies introduce superior solutions. They have two advantages over the brand’s custom publishing: superior execution capabilities, more credibility as “editor” than the advertisers. They have two advantages over start-ups to raise bar of UGC: they offer the consumer access to professional, high value iconic content with which to tell their stories, and brands trust their judgement to maintain production values at a level consistent with their brand image..K-

          12. phoneranger

            I don’t doubt that there are huge opportunities in social network marketing and other community initiatives. But how many people belong to the Ranch Dressing community? How many want to? The old model was about interruption i.e. forcefully placing your message in front of a willing potential customer. Linear newspapers, magazines, radio and TV delivered that model perfectly. Now with “snacking”, opt-ins and DVRs it’s much harder for an advertiser with tankcars full of Ranch dressing to sell to force consumers to think about salad dressing.So how would you pitch Clorox?

          13. COMRADITY

            Your questions set up Comradity’s pitch to a brand perfectly! We understand the problem – the captive audience of linear media is fragmented by individuals “snacking” abundant bits when and where they like. Comradity Transmedia Design brings order to all that chaos by integrating media assets and interactive technology to expand the camaraderie and community emanating from live events. A Comradity Transmedia Design community is superior to custom digital communities (which as you point out risk being irrelevant – “How many people belong to the Ranch Dressing community?”) and social media advertising (which as you point out risks offending by interruption – what’s worse, interrupting personal communications not just frivolous entertainment). Additionally, Clorox benefits from the efficiency and sustainability of our organic approach to community building. A Comradity Transmedia Design is superior to custom digital publishing because it starts with a context relevant to the sponsor patron, for example Hidden Valley Salad Dressing, but chosen because it already sparks active participation – more than casual interest – in both real and virtual worlds. For example, cooking is the 3rd most popular “like” on Facebook pages. Our independence allows us to develop partnerships with diverse stakeholders within the cooking context – publishers/programmers who produce cooking content, vendors who sell cooking equipment and products, local retailers, media and organizations serving those who cook – who all would enjoy a bigger bang for their buck by co-creating programming. Our approach transforms the culture of “me” on social media to “we” by harnessing the factors affecting camaraderie and community at live events. REAL TIME creates an urgency to show up. Seeing fellow participants’ response reminds all attendees of the value of being a part of something bigger than themselves. Our cyber theater application allows participation in real time from anywhere.Our organic approach to build the community through virtual networking is both efficient and sustainable. We publicly cover THE WHOLE STORY – curating all community partner and member involvement before, during, and after events. CREDIBILITY comes from member endorsement, by syndicating content on their websites, blogs, and social media pages. Rewards to patron sponsor, partners and members are sustained by AFFINITY, which grows through camaraderie, creates deeper bonds, sustains demand for more events & attracts more curiosity in the community at large.As many brands demand, CLOROX needs consumer engagement, as close to retail as possible, but on a grand scale. A COMRADITY Transmedia Design cooking community offers a receptive context and timing for communicating, educating, overcoming objections, and inspiring new ideas to the Hidden Ranch Valley Salad Dressing target. The significantly higher “aspirational fit” and “purchase intent” reported for brands who engage at live events is expanded by Comradity Transmedia Design networking live events via a virtual community in real time. Any comments or questions?Katherine Warman Kern@comradity

          14. phoneranger

            OK Katherine I am sure your pitch will resonate with marketing managers who want to do something with new/social media. And maybe it’s additive to what they are doing now. Even cost-effective. But does the sum of all social media marketing solutions provide the branding value now delivered by Old Media? I don’t think New Media can scale to replace Old Media. From a consumer perspective maybe that’s not a big deal. Have you watched local news shows recently? But for Clorox et al they will need to fill in the gap. Nothing on the horizon (not even Twitter) looks adequate to the task.

          15. COMRADITY

            These are all good questions that once again help to crystallize why Comradity “nails it” as BPfeifer says . . .1.Comradity Transmedia goes beyond new media, user generated content. We are licensing (read: paying) for content whose value is high to the community because it is relevant to the context. The sources could be “old” media, vendor educational materials, as well as the vast resource of professional participants who make a living participating in the community, not as celebrities, but are certainly quite talented. The brand value of associating with such a comprehensive and valuable resource for the community is something they can once again say “they are proud to sponsor.”2.Old Media scale isn’t what it used to be. Single digit ratings on television are the norm (a 1 rating is 1 Million households out of 115 Million). Only network primetime surpasses a 10 rating, maybe. (Down from a 30 rating, back in the day Primetime and local late news are the only ways to scale reach in real time (think about your own life – how many people are home during the day or watching in the middle of the night when most of the advertising inventory runs and builds frequency against a relatively small potential audience).We build these communities from the bottom up. The charter members are specialty retail stores catering to the needs of an interest that engages more than casual involvement, but active participants who want to immerse in more. We estimate that specialty food and cooking stores are about 1 per 100,000 people, or 3100 stores with an average weekly traffic count of 2,000, for 7 Million people per week. So with one event per week and the cybertheater which makes each event available from anywhere we should be able to deliver at least the 1 Million a normal rated television delivers, or better. (By the way: If Hidden Valley doesn’t have distribution in all these stores, this creates a new channel of distribution, perhaps with a premium line that could raise the perceived value of the brand.)3.Importantly, the interactivity of live events drives sales. A Harris Interactive study revealed that Purchase Intent and Aspirational Fit were significantly higher among people who attended an event a brand sponsored than among people who saw the brand’s ad.Live events with an audience of 1 Million would generate at least as much coupon redemption as an FSI distributed in 46 Million newspapers. An FSI with national newspaper distribution of over 46 Million (but who knows how many see anything after they fall out on the floor and go right into the recycle bin) gets less than a 0.5% redemption rate, or a high of 230,000. With live events we generate 30% redemption rates on coupons. If one of our events reaches only 1 Million of the 7 Million weekly specialty food and cooking store visitors, either at the store or remotely via the cybertheater, that’s 300,000.K-

          16. ShanaC

            No one knows the value of ideas. We’ll never know. It’s impossible to know. Though we do know it has value. It’s one of those fields of economics that are really only starting to develop now.The reason is that ideas are non-rivalries. Once an idea is out there, both me and you having it does make it less possible for someone to use it. Probably most valuable point of information is when it is least used, which is inherently the problem, because there may be tipping points for certain kinds of information (you need a certain amount of people to use it, but not too many for network effect) Google realizes this very effectively, and is screwing us all. They have made ways for it to be rivalrous by producing overflow?What they are selling is access to time or scheduling or privilege or feeling, not information in and of itself. Information, once it is there, is there. That hulu video will be spread in other ways if they are not careful, because of that property. And anyone on the internet should be wary of that fact.It is one of the reasons I think Joseph Stiglitz at Columbia is one of the Guys to talk to about the New Economy, even though I think the internet is passing him by. Nobel Prize winner on Information Economics.…Though seriously, I couldn’t get through it, if you are smart enough, you should just read his book that is his summary of his Wicksell Lectures, his lectures he gave in Stockholm for the Nobel committee. Really brilliant, and really could be applied to the internet, about how information works in large groups. (he was talking about communism, works the same though if you think about it)

          17. COMRADITY

            Interesting Shana. I will definitely check it out – not that I will get through it either . . .I’ve been in the business of pricing and selling ideas for over 20 years now. Sort of like courtship, it’s not a linear process. Will never realize the full value potential of “ideas”. But selling “ideas” to people who and when they are receptive will generate a much bigger return than selling the utility of access. Especially as that industry gets more price driven.K-

          18. ShanaC

            What the behavioral economist with them though- I mean, we all are human too :)(I wish I took econ, but not here, here I would be damned…damned freshwater school)

          19. bpfeifer

            Kate nails it. Old Media has no choice but to reinvent vertically. However, Consumer NetWorth contraction/erosion is sweeping Nation. When dust clears media can rebuild. Before then enjoy the bumpy ride.The few media outlets likely to be left standing (e.g., Comcast, et. al). These new fangled conglomorates will deliver consumer centric slices of “off” & “on-line” content. Broadsheets wont go the way of the dinosaur. Humans like print on paper and will continue to consume it in its proper form.

          20. COMRADITY

            Thank you very much.One thought. Consumer networth contraction/erosion may suggest seeking consumer purchases instead of advertising makes no sense. But HBO subscriptions are at all time highs and profits are growing.The point is when spending power shrinks, it is very revealing to look at what people choose to continue paying for.When you go to a cable company office, you see people lined up, digging for coins in their pockets and the bottom of their purses to come up with the minimum payment to keep the connection going. Certainly, we could give these people a better value for their money.K—

          21. ShanaC

            Power rules are not going to change economic fundamentals. You must create cash flow. Basic econ 101: Money is representative of other stuff.The question really you want to know is what is the other stuff? Normally we would say service-but we’ve pulled the human out of the question. I just wrote a paper that people don’t realize that most software is a service business that is devoid of the human. It makes valuations extremely difficult, because you normally value service business on the service which is inherently people oriented. Trying to figure out the location of the human in all of this, is a precision problem in a valuation.What will happen that as a consequence of pulling out people will be that valuations for business will change slowly over time once we can locate human interation with the mediated enviroment. The reason 1.0 outreach is so successful is because is the mediation is easy to locate. Cash flow from more dynamic sources, especially when you have more humans involved that are not service provider, makes it more difficult to provide a valuation.It will be convient to the public and this is how you know: There is convergence into broadcast out to broadcast in technologies. people are very willing to charge medium to top dolalr on Hulu, and to buy music for an iphone. This is still a fairly traditional way to consume media despite the local of the platform. And yet the object through the consumption and the behaviors associated with them have radically changed (on demand tv)There has been a move towards broadcast out for convince sake. Once UX catches up to this movement, then you will see success. Unfortunately, I don’t think we fully have the processing power nor the behavioral watching cabalitlies to really fully understand how to do this correctly. Something is missing, and I am not quite sure what…It’s almost like I really want to redesign the web…bleh…

        2. ShanaC

          I like high heels, you can give em to me.

          1. awaldstein

            Certainly. After I win;)

          2. ShanaC

            Thank you.

      2. ShanaC

        You’re shoes might fit me. I would bet the wager.Found it, Chapter 3 and 4 of “The Laws of the Web: Patterns in the Ecology of Information” by Bernado Huberman.…Linkage Obeys Zipf’s Law. It also used to be an average of 4 links, not 6 my bad.

        1. the build

          LOL. Right on, Shana!I couldn’t seem to adequately view the book — it was freezing up my browser, but I’m reluctant to buy into linking, etc. — unless there is insight into what the traffic is doing, session times, repeat visitors, etc. it’s hard to gauge how much traffic was converted to audience. there are a lot of posts on my blog about my thoughts on traffic but in a nut shell, linking can drive traffic but what really only matters is how much audience in the end it creates. and i would caution anybody against looking solely to the internet platform when analyzing or thinking about doing business on it — there are consistent rules seen over all the platforms that give a lot of clues to how to do business with the web today. there’s some posts on my blog about that too.without reading the book you posted though i can’t say for sure so perhaps this is a draw for the shoes 🙂

          1. ShanaC

            See this map thenhttp://datamining.typepad.c…Just blogs.At some point people will click on the link. It may not be today it may not be tomorrow, but they will click. It’s about total impression value, not each link (much like total branding). If that is the way all blogs work, then at some point, someone will click on alternatives to their own pov…Advertising on the web is not much different than it is in print. Nor is the value of the linkl. It’s the matter of the when.. But when your links look like that…Poof!

          2. the build

            Right, but clicking on a link doesn’t mean it’s going to convert to audience. What that person does after they click is what really matters — a lot of people click, spend less than a minute on a site and never return to it again — that is not audience. That’s traffic. A million uniques a month that do not spend any time on a site and never return is not of any real value. That’s been a huge part of the problem for companies that come to me — they spent all their time geeking the SEO to drive mass search traffic only to find it did not convert to audience. At the end of the day, the name of this game is what the traffic does, and how much of it does it. You might drive by Starbucks and look at the sign every day. But unless you go in and buy a coffee, you are not a customer.I write a lot about this on my site — give a search for “Audience Vs. Traffic.” You’ll see a bit more about what I mean. Page views/impressions are virtually useless today in gauging a site’s value and size because they can be falsely gamed — slideshows, the way a page is set up, SEO, etc. You’re preaching to the choir about advertising not being much different, however, it’s people’s lack of understanding and knowledge related to the web that is the culprit.The fact that there has not been one article in the media in five years that has ever mentioned the words “session times” and “repeat/return visitors” (except mine) when talking about traffic says it all about the state of the marketplace. People still don’t have any idea that page views/impressions can be falsely generated. That’s the problem.

          3. COMRADITY

            True.Did you see the article on MarketingVox today with a headline about studies showing a link to a landing page instead of website results in better conversion rates? Instead of spending money studying obvious outcomes wouldn’t it be neat if there were some bolder innovations were explored. How about studying the impact on conversion rates of animated avatars answering FAQs vs. a text form.

          4. the build

            Big thinking is always sexy. But, I would rather see studies on how to build audiences. I know how to — I have built lots of them as well as worked in an industry that’s very good at it and there are ways to do things, strategies, etc. I think it’d be most beneficial to all business if people were studying, thinking about and talking about this. It’s already obvious that linking, aggregation, etc. can drive traffic but sites need to focus on how to convert that traffic to audience once it lands on their page, as well as understand its not the only thing that they should be doing to build theirs because linking, search, etc. will only drive so much….

      3. ADstruc

        platforms. platforms. platforms. They change media.

        1. the build

          Not really. Media still remains the same. How it delivers its products is what changes.

    3. ShanaC

      There have been studies on this actually. We develop nodes. So this site would be a node. And then we cross link. So people will put up links occasionally (or not so occasionally) to other things. I used to have reference material on the subject, but it works out that on average it will take you about 6 links to get from one site to another site on the internet, and they can be totally unrelated sites too. That study was done in the early mid 2000s. I suspect that number is dropping, mostly because of products like Disqus and twitter. There are now more “points of view” to the same material, and the material is in real time. Even if you subscribe to a certain point of view, you are now more likely because of Metcalfe’s law to engage in some other one faster or sooner. It is one of the reasons that leads me to believe that they are outdated laws, but that’s a whole other conversation. (Tighter linking problems)

  6. cschmiddi

    i agree that the Carr article is good. And i agree with the transition idea, but to call the new model that of a meritocracy is a bit far fetched i think. American likes to view itself as a model of meritocracy and the idea seems to be held up whenever possible but in the end i think meritocracy is rarely seen in the wild, even in the US as on the Internet. in technology and services the best model should win but it doesn’t a lot of times mediocrity wins out.

  7. Scott Yates

    I did exactly that, went to NYU from Denver, got a job at magazine and a newspaper. Loved it. Then I worked in newsrooms for 10 years.The funny thing is that now the whole world has become like a newsroom. We had this crazy, manic need to know everything in real time, and then we pondered it and figured out how to put it in the paper for everyone else to read about in the morning.Now, the whole world is like a newsroom.The only bad news: newsrooms were not mentally healthy places.

  8. Carl Rahn Griffith

    News is tap-water. Opinion is cola.

    1. Mark Essel


    2. David Semeria

      In which case thorough investigation (Watergate) and fact-checking (The Hitler Diaries) must surely be nectar!

    3. andyswan

      Passionate, well-informed, well-articulated unpopular opinion is Pappy Van Winkle 23 year old bourbon.

      1. Dave Pinsen

        Because it’s tough to swallow for the uninitiated?

      2. fredwilson

        We get a good bit of that here on a daily basis. Often from you andy

        1. andyswan

          Pappy or opinion? Hopefully both 🙂

          1. fredwilson


          2. andyswan

            That’s livin!

          3. ShanaC

            What is pappy?

          4. andyswan

            Pappy is excellence.  Pappy is patience.  Pappy is bonding.  Pappy is bourbon….the best.

          5. ShanaC

            I’ll stick to wine and single malt scotch when I can afford it, thanks.

  9. Harry DeMott

    In a meritocracy, who makes money? that, to me, is the most important business question that comes out of these sorts of discussions. As a guy involved with Pandora I see it firsthand. The ability to distribute media of all forms easily and cheaply has fundamentally shaken the foundations of old media. There is no velvet rope anymore – and without a velvet rope, how do you get paid. Sure everyone makes a little – but there are no more monopoly rents. So the answer to my question falls in the realm of data and service providers.As Seth Godin wrote this weekend… there’s more value in organizing and pointing to media than there is in the media itself. Bloggers are increasingly influential and don’t exactly make a lot of $ (some exceptions here of course) but over time perhaps your investments in Disqus and others will be where the gold is.

    1. the build

      i think in order to see it this way you’ve got to understand that newspapers and media took the wrong approach to the internet, as did music business. retail did not — it was very wise about the disruption and how to handle it, based all of its conclusions on research, not speculation, and it fares very well. TV is coming in well — it’s very early for that market, but it’s watching, listening and carefully paying attention. At the end of the day, it is all about media’s adaption and adoption to a shifting platform. The rest of what is true about business stays the same.Blogs are media. Publishing is publishing regardless of the platform.

    2. andyswan

      1) Your content has to be exclusive2) Your content has to be excellent3) You’ve got to shop your content properly to the “organizers”, who will bid.The paparazzi have had the model right all along….and it’s WIDE OPEN for true journalists that want to dig deeper than “gotcha” photos….

      1. ShanaC

        And how do you make content exclusive? What makes something exclusive?

        1. andyswan

          You discover it or create it before anyone else!

          1. ShanaC

            Doesn’t help you, once it’s out there, it’s out there. How do you stop that?

          2. andyswan

            With journalism, you don’t.  “first” still wins and still commands a premium and WILL be paid for.With original content, just ask JK Rowling or Larry David if you can get PAID for that 🙂

          3. ShanaC

            lots of people write books. I know of a guy who has a novel and no publisher. And breaking the news may still require some Mass media source to pick it up.We’re still transitioning here. No good answers for how to monetize…

    3. fredwilson

      Search, navigation, smart aggregation, user generated content are all areas that win in this environment

      1. Elie Seidman

        I’d be curious to know what percentage of the total minutes spent on content on the internet are spent on professional content vs UGC once you exclude Facebook. My guess is that a massive majority of the time is spent on pro content of some sort. Note that I include your blog as pro because you make money from it indirectly. I think that as much as things have changed, they’ve stayed the same. People who have a talent for making content are going to want to get paid for making it. What’s a blog like TechCrunch or GigaOm – just professional journalists going out on their own to get directly paid for what they produce. The makers of content no longer need a printing press or trucks – electrons, servers and wordpress do just fine – and they won’t make as much money as they might have made ten years ago but they will still get paid for it. I think that the majority of user generated content will fall under the hobby umbrella and will not generate much if any revenue. It will continue to exist and it will continue to grow but it will likely continue to have relatively little value. The long tail of content is long but I would guess that it’s not as long as many think and that the majority of the content consumed is created by people who do it for a living or as part of their living.

        1. fredwilson

          You can’t take facebook out of UGC content analysis. That’s like taking the yankees out of the discussion about world series titles

          1. Elie Seidman

            Fair enough. But FB is the obvious one – once you get beyond FB the falloff is severe and drastic.

          2. fredwilson

            Same with google in search (and the yankees in baseball)

          3. Elie Seidman

            I’m a cubs fan so this is getting painful

          4. fredwilson

            I’m a mets fan. I agree

          5. COMRADITY

            No kidding.

          6. COMRADITY

            Isn’t that the life of a Cubs fan?

          7. ShanaC

            You are in Chicago or like Chicago?

          8. COMRADITY

            I’m in the NYC area and a frustrated Mets fan. But formerly in Chicago and a Cubs fan resigned to just enjoy Wrigley field and the experience! You in Chicago?

          9. ShanaC

            right now, yes.

          10. Elie Seidman

            Cubs losing is like death and taxes

          11. COMRADITY

            so true.

          12. ShanaC

            I think we need to more carefully analyze facebook. It’s like an anthropological zoo, and I know people who are quitting (and those are the first generation people.)I’m not quite sure what people do there, and I should be…(speaking of which, I should still be crowdsourcing that project)

      2. ShanaC

        By Smart aggregation you mean what? Aggregation is a tool. And it comes in many forms. I’m unhappy with a lot of what I see.

        1. fredwilson

          TechmemeHacker newsHype machineWe are huntedReal clear politicsThose are some of the smart aggregators I use every day

          1. Dave Pinsen

            I could kill a bunch of time on Real Clear Politics. I had to go cold turkey on that site a while ago.

          2. ShanaC

            Just because people can kill time on em, doesn’t make them smart (i use a lot of them too) I keep thinking of what a next gen aggregator is. We Are Hunted is close, but no one has gotten into why we data mine and into the process of data visualization in real time (now that would be awesome.)Still looking…

          3. COMRADITY

            I am on the hunt for this and so far have used maptrends. Here’s an explanation of what we are trying achieve: There’s a link to the map we created. I’m organizing a call with these guys to see where they are and where they are going.If you know of any other software, let me know. We’re creating a product that will generate revenue for them directly from consumers.

    4. ShanaC

      I agree with this. Web needs to get smaller to make information less rivalrous.

    5. kidmercury

      IMHO the new media business model is the same as the social network business model: advertising, UGC, ecommerce. the media needs to be used to create community, and community is the “velvet rope” of new media.

      1. fredwilson


      2. COMRADITY

        Agree – just would put ecommerce first. Start with the premise that the more invested the audience is in the community, the more selective the community can be about advertisers and the higher the premium advertisers will pay to participate. Wouldn’t this emulate what’s happening here?

  10. the build

    I thought that article was disturbing because it pointed out that media business did not know what the internet was and how to adapt to it long ago, and that it still doesn’t now.How could anybody who understands what the internet is not know that print media publications would start to close, like Gourmet? Doesn’t surprise me at all. We should expect more to come.Mainstream media isn’t going to fall. Eventually, it’ll be forced to adapt. It’ll cost it a bunch but eventually it will get there.

  11. andyswan

    I think no one needs to look any further than the two 20-something stars that brought the criminal organization called ACORN to its knees for proof of this concept.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      I think you need to give some credit to Andrew Breitbart there, without whom most of us probably wouldn’t have heard of those two kids and their sting operations.There are still velvet ropes; it’s just that top tier bloggers (including multimedia stars such as Breitbart or Godin) have their own velvet ropes now. The average person starting a blog today doesn’t have much more voice than he did when his broadcasting options were limited to writing letters to the editor of newspapers, calling into talk radio, or going on public access TV.It’s also worth bearing in mind the extent to which “old media” has co-opted successful bloggers, e.g., Megan McCardle, Felix Salmon, Anna Marie Cox, are all collecting paychecks from major media outlets now. Most newbies (except the more stubborn among us) tend to follow the arc of a typical blog.

      1. andyswan

        Agree with the “value of distribution” argument, but disagree with “heaverage person starting a blog today doesn’t have much more voice than hedid when his broadcasting options were limited to writing letters to theeditor of newspapers, calling into talk radio, or going on public accessTV.”I’d argue that it depends completely on the value of the content beingproduced. The ACORN videos, even if on “Joe Blow’s” blog, would have hadimpact far beyond those “old soapboxes” because the quality of the contentwas so high and the material so “shocking” (to some, anyway).Remember, Drudge got his break by breaking the Monica Lewinsky story thatNewsweek was intentionally burying….and now he’s got 8 BILLION hits peryear.Exclusive, high quality journalism will BE FOUND by the right distributionchannels, IMO

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Andy,Even with the best content, getting people to see it without an assist from someone established (whether in the new media or old) is a crap shoot at best. Had the ACORN stingers (it’s telling that neither of us remembers their names) just posted their videos to YouTube, there’s an excellent chance we would have never seen them.

          1. andyswan

            Guess that depends how many twitter followers they have lol.Or how many blogs they comment on.Or how many “almost famous” sites they submitted it to.

          2. Dave Pinsen

            Andy,If you have tens of thousands of Twitter followers, as Fred does, for example, then I think it’s safe to say you are established in that medium, and probably in other new media as well (e.g., as Fred is in blogging too). This just circles back to my point about how the velvet ropes still exist, but there are new gatekeepers with the new media.In some cases, you can buy access via one of these gatekeepers, as I did recently (on the suggestion of my site developers) by paying for a review of my company’s new site by a top tier blogger. But even then it’s often not cost effective.

          3. andyswan

            We’ll have to agree ro disagree.   I think with 300 twitter followers that vid goes viral fast

          4. Dave Pinsen

            Andy,I can think of a way you can prove me wrong and make both of us a couple of bucks at the same time. Send me an e-mail if you’re interested in giving it a shot: dpinsen [at]

          5. ShanaC

            Interestingly, the one thing that still is true about that article. You got to earn that assist. And I bet that is true to this day. Hard work is everything.

    2. curmudgeonly troll

      ummh… two 20-something tricksters and a corporate propaganda machine.Speaking of criminal organizations, if Alberto Gonzales couldn’t trump something up, there probably wasn’t a whole lot going on in there.ACORN is a silly ‘stab-in-the-back’ narrative for fascists to pitch that ‘un-Americans’ stole their rightful place at the top of the oligarchy.Incredible that’s the best they can come up with.and now, back to your regularly scheduled last throes of dying oligarchies.

      1. andyswan

        Oh well, at least no one was hurt from the whole “force banks to loan moneyto people that can’t afford it” thing.

        1. curmudgeonly troll

          shed a tear for the poor banks that were 25% of US stock market capitalization, and owned the legislative and executive branches of government.

          1. andyswan

            “Owned”….as in past tense? lol We’ll see what Dodd, Bernanke, Geithnerand Frank have to say about that!!!

          2. curmudgeonly troll

            If you have a party where a majority believe that ACORN stole the election – – or that the financial crisis was due to not letting the banks do what they wanted…well, you showed everyone you will believe anything based on ideology, aren’t able to absorb facts that might not be consistent with it, and nothing you believe should be considered connected to reality.Halliburton was paid more in a day than ACORN was paid in a year. But there’s more outrage from certain quarters over clerks at ACORN than over Halliburton electrocuting American servicemen.

      2. fredwilson

        Ahh. The curmudgeonly troll. We’ve missed around these parts. At least I have

      3. ShanaC

        Damn you troll, you can’t get on the twitter list!

      4. JLM

        Hahaha, clever, crafty, wily, deceptive, little tricksters!One posing as a pimp intending to run for Congress and the other pretending to be an entrepreneurial prostitute looking to start an under age Guatamalan staffed brothel!I can at least say with a straight fact that I have never taken a meeting with such “tricky” folks myself, but I can see where they could fool a lot of folks.Maybe on Halloween!ACORN and its ilk are a boil on the country’s butt and need to be excised with cold steel and cauterized with fire. They are an absurd criminal organization which nobody is willing to call out because of the seemingly racial implications.Nobody stole the last election, the Republicans gave it to them. Nonetheless, no honest man requires ACORN to ensure fair and free elections.

  12. Carl Rahn Griffith

    The trouble with this period of transition is that much of what is out there online simply reminds me of the ‘Infinite monkey theorem’ –…Then on a much grander, pseudo-intellectual scale we then have cults such as TED where vacuous, pretentious, meaningless sound-bites are lauded for being visionary.The Gilded (Internet) Age.

    1. fredwilson

      It will come to and end too carl

    2. andyswan

      So right Carl. Panels are worse. The worst. Voyeurs into a circle-jerk of visionary sound-bites.New rule: Never sit on a panel unless you disagree with everyone else on the panel.

      1. fredwilson

        Even I don’t, I’ll find a way to for the sake of keeping me and everyone else awake

        1. andyswan

          Right on. If you can’t play devil’s advocate, you probably aren’t qualified to talk on the subject anyway!

    3. ShanaC

      Might most disappointing thing with a TED lecture. Saw Olafur Elliason in Chicago, looked him up on TED, realized that what he said and the artwork did not match. Poor guy.

  13. davidkpark

    Media meritocracy is an interesting concept – a “new media business…leaner, faster, and controlled more by users than media moguls.” Another case where open source economics is disrupting a traditional business model. If the media meritocracy model is extended to the news media what would we get? Leaner news? Faster news? Better news? I’d be curious to know what Yocai would think about media meritocracy – not from a business standpoint but normatively speaking? Would people just self select news that they already agree with creating a polarized society? Markus Prior, a Princeton politics professor, who wrote Post-Broadcast Democracy: How Media Choice Increases Inequality in Political Involvement and Polarizes Elections, seems to argue that a media meritocracy may not be such a good thing after all. Hopefully there’s a middle ground between news by users and media moguls that produces leaner, faster and better (normatively speaking) news.

    1. ShanaC

      I saw that. First Hand. I remember doing a long write up of the Rubashkin Raid (largest of second largest immigration raid in the History of the US), because of Jewish and Kashruth issues. Because its in Postville, Iowa, the place is a media desert, so all the information was coming from a few bloggers and MSM. After the raid, everyone picked up and left beyond a couple of bloggers, apparently the town is still having massive disruption problems because of it, and it has little to no local media to help disseminate information.It seems that the new age of media is only what feeds our hunger, which develops quickly. If you live outside of some sort of mainstream, (like small town in rural Iowa) it will be very difficult to get current news, often because news percolates slowly.

  14. Mike McGrath

    I see this trend especially as the maturing of the late 90’s tech bubble into a bonafide, capable industry with staying power. I was enamored, yet cautious, of Warren Buffett back when he spoke of things like newspapers as great value holdings. Change is inevitable – while strong business fundamentals can make an investing fortune like his, there are always many intangible moving parts and issues of timing that make formulas temporary as well. was trying media/entertainment broadcasts in the 90’s but the tech wasn’t up to par to broadcast well – now anyone hungry can do it. Timing and maturation.

    1. fredwilson


  15. awaldstein

    Well said Mark. Thnxdailypatricia–feel double teamed?A great discussion.

    1. ShanaC

      Oh I remember you doing stuff like that to me: It’s good for your education. I’m glad I’m surviving it. Thanks guys…

  16. Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

    I saw many people recommending this but I found it tepid at best.By now everyone should now tht context trumps content – you could have guessed it 10 years ago – and you (Fred Wilson) DID bank on it a couple years back (with If I were you, I would try to cash out ASAP, because sooner or later (and probably no so far off) people will begin to realize that (which is a context) does not really provide a lot of contextual information. Then again: If they were to finally start managing the site more reasonably (paying more attention to the intersection of community + business — with a more hawkish focus on the bottom line), then here is also a long term future (esecially if they get with the program before people lose interest).:) nmw

    1. fredwilson

      Good advice, as usual norbert. They are working on it but timing is everything

      1. Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

        Here’s an example of something I consider to be unreasonable:…People do not use twitter for editorial judgment (for that, they might read a paper like the Economist). People using twitter do not want editors getting in the way or making recommendations. If the management of twitter continue to behave so foolishly, they will ultimately drive away users.

        1. ShanaC

          Ultimately, media is complex. We can shape it to our own wills.

          1. Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

            Not sure I understand your point, but I think I disagree. Media that are complex won’t be used much. The reason why twitter was originally successful was that it was simple + straightforward + that it delivered what it promised (namely: commercial twitter).Plain vanilla FFA sites like and/or etc. are GIGO — there is no context, so they simply get filled up with link spam. Indeed probably close to 99% of the Internet is useless junk. It would be a shame if the property were to be commoditized at such a low level. They really should get someone who has a better understanding of information (and certainly not some Hollywood gossip freak — unless the goal / target market is indeed among tabloid / rumor mill demographic).

  17. Aviah Laor

    The old media decline is inevitable, and welcomed. However, we should fear the downside: 1. Media titans have an important role in the society balance. Individuals and scattered media outlets will have less power. Can they pick things like Watergate?2. The more important news will be more invisible than today: These are the long term trends, policies, demographics, complex economic issues that have enormous effect on our life. These issues are much more relevant to anybody life than Tiger Woods accident. True, these issues always got less attention, but this new form all media will make them impossible to notice at all.

    1. fredwilson

      I’m not convinced those are the results. That’s what everyone says will happen. But the internet brought us wikipedia which is 10x better than any encyclopedia. I’m not buying into the idea that it can’t also build us a better media

      1. Aviah Laor

        This is the key point: involvement. Wikipedia success is attracting the active involvement of many editors. The new media can take the “watching dog” place if (i think only if) it could take advantage of it’s ability to create action & involvement, instead of the traditional passive news consumption. Currently this potential is mostly channeled to spontaneous actions: comments, retweets and link referrals, which is nice but far from what can be done (Maybe a public edited wiki newspaper for a start? The Wiki Times?)

        1. Aviah Laor

          actually there is already!

        2. COMRADITY

          Agree about involvement. But the quality of the interface needs to improve. And the value to the contributors needs to improve.Have you heard about the rate of Wikipedia abandoning the ship?

          1. ShanaC

            Not suprised, it’s getting too big for its own good. Despite that, there is a huge amount of work to be done, and it is often in the fields that need the most detail, and need bends on the rules (umm like my art field, a lot of the articles seem like primary research and end up getting deleted)So just not surprised. Not enough take charge with too many people and too much stuff. It needs to get a little more formal and shrink if it is to grow. Too diluted.

    2. andyswan

      Ahhh yes let’s celebrate the media that saved us from stolen political documents and dumpster diving, but cheered us through Iraq invasions and the unscathed rise of a well-connected Chicago radical.An independent, distributed and boldly questioning media is the intent of the 1st amendment, and it’s good to see the pendulum swing back in that direction after a few decades of horrible corporate centralization.

      1. ShanaC

        He’s not that radical compared to some of the neighbors. Really…

        1. andyswan

          Literal lol

      2. JLM

        When the media champion a particular candidate and report their own leg tingles as “news”, they have sacrificed their own independence to say nothing of their own manhood. LOLI tingle for no man!

        1. fredwilson

          Happy anniversary JLM30 is a big ccomplishment!

      3. kidmercury

        lol the media these days is so ridiculous

      4. Aviah Laor

        Agreed, but still, some cases require heavy lifting and serious backup. This is not easily achieved by individuals or small independent teams. Unfortunately, as you said, even centralized corporate media frequently hesitates to follow these cases.

    3. ShanaC

      I don’t think anyone knows what the media will be like until it runs through a couple of cycles. And we haven’t lived through one yet. This is not a mature medium at all. The look and feel of this blog is so different than the first blog I remember reading. And I expect in 10 years, for it to be radically different.So we’ll see. No one really knows. we’ll see how people use this. It will be exciting to watch.

  18. AndreaF

    The benefits of this transformation far outstrip the problems it causes. We can’t celebrate job losses and financial carnage but we should get excited by the possibility that are opening to us as consumers, builders and participants to this new era.

  19. hypermark

    I think that for Print Media to survive in some semblance of its current (albeit, smaller) form, it has to materially improve its offering and deliver a more compelling user experience. Case in point, in SF, where I live, the response to the sick media environment is for the Chronicle to get thinner and thinner, with more generic ‘staff’ writers, except on Sunday, which remains a differentiated product. Net effect: I have cancelled six days of paper but read Sunday cover to cover, as Monday-Saturday is inferior to what’s on the Web. THAT is a surefire recipe for failure. How might the product/user experience be made better?1. Come up with well-defined linkages between online and offline workflows. For example, print subscribers get access to deeper analysis, better tools for saving, excerpting, sharing and finding related content;2. Create new types of media/engagement units that reward loyalty, communit-ize it, perhaps game-ify it;3. Re-think segmentation (and pricing) across high-end, low-end, hyper-local, and vertical-specific distinctions, and re-work the product accordingly.Hard stuff, hardly guaranteed to offset the already negative gravity the industry is facing, and a serious DNA change, to be sure, but the alternative is uglier, something that I blogged about in:Old Media, New Media and Where the Rubber Meets the it out, if interested.Mark

  20. awaldstein
  21. ShanaC

    I have only one response to this article.I come across another who is a bundle of ideas, energy and technological mastery. The next wave is not just knocking on doors, but seeking to knock them down.Somewhere down in the Flatiron, out in Brooklyn, over in Queens or up in Harlem, cabals of bright young things are watching all the disruption with more than an academic interest. Their tiny netbooks and iPhones, which serve as portals to the cloud, contain more informational firepower than entire newsrooms possessed just two decades ago. And they are ginning content from their audiences in the form of social media or finding ways of making ambient information more useful. They are jaded in the way youth requires, but have the confidence that is a gift of their age as well.For them, New York is not an island sinking, but one that is rising on a fresh, ferocious wave.*grin* Joy of being young!

  22. JLM

    The more things change the more things stay the same.Much of what is said has parallels in the earlier tranformation of television and cable television. A billboard guy (Ted Turner) saw the promise of a new platform (cable tv) to provide both a broad (thousands of channels) and a focused (CNN 24-hr news station) content delivery mechanism.Everybody thought Ted T was nuts.Today we can all read the underlying source data (AP, Reuters, Bloomberg, etc) for many of the stories which will appear in tom’w’s newspaper and in most instances can communicate directly with the author.We will be able to read scores of newspapers online before the story is fully developed and can communicate directly back with author if we do not agree with it.Take the cross section of sources on the recent Tiger Woods story — National Enquirer, Orlando paper, NYT, ESPN, etc. Each coming at the story from a different direction. [Tiger, you broke my heart!]While I can rise to the embrace of media v content and the democratization of the marketplace, it is ultimately the individual who makes the final decision as to what info they drink from this particular fire hose stream.In the last ten minutes, I have checked the snow pack @ the top of Mt Werner in SBS, Co; the fishing off Wrightsville Beach, NC and the weather in Huatulco. And the flying conditions enroute.Tom’w is my 30th wedding anniversary and my wife has never hit me with anything less lofted than a 7-iron!

  23. Terry J. Leach

    Change is inevitable, but some media moguls think they can turn back the clock instead of embracing it. It’s not just old media that need to embrace change, but any organization that feel they have control over information, because we are the very beginning of the mobile communication era (smart phones, and netbooks) that change everything that came before.

    1. fredwilson

      Yes. Mobile web could be as disruptive as the web has been all over again

  24. markslater

    well in the words of umair (fanboy comment number xxx of the year – i know)Dear Geniuses,Blocking Google is about as smart as eating a pound of plutonium.The problem isn’t that Google’s being an evil monopolist. It’s that you used to be evil monopolists, and failed to invest in the quality of production.Today, you’re faced with the same dilemma every fading monopolist is. What do we do now that we suck?The answer’s really, really, really simple. Stop sucking.But you’re trying to create artificial scarcity instead. That might have worked in the 20th century – but it’s a suicide bomb in the 21st. In a hyperconnected world, creating artificial scarcity kills orthodox businesses dead. That’s because though you can block Google, there’s no way to block people from using Google to find stuff that doesn’t suck.See the problem? The Force is so not with you.Luv,Umair

    1. fredwilson

      Man, he’s good

    2. fredwilson

      Man, he’s good

  25. Cara Erickson

    Agree, this piece really captures well the dynamics of the evolving media industry for people such as myself who were first attracted to the publishing business when it was in its heyday. Having worked in book, magazine, newspaper publishing (yes,for The New York Times, which does define Exceptionalism) and new media when it was new, I still find it an exhiliarating industry for those who want to be part of figuring out its next chapter. I work with media businesses now (established as well as pureplay Internet businesses) as a consultant in recruiting executive talent to help develop and operate within the new business models. It’s no longer words on paper but information and technology that are the magic combination; there’s tremendous room for creativity and innovation in that equation. The skills required are different and the jobs will be dispersed in a new more fluid system stillto be defined. But Media and Media Services will continue to have the same lure for the next group of job-seekers that it did 25 years ago.

  26. andyvar

    Substitute “funds manager” for “MSM journalist” and I bet you could write a similar article in 5 years about the Decline of the Expert in the finance world. All the same themes are there. I’m assuming someone has pinned up this article on the wall of the staff canteen at Covestor!Cheers,Andrew

  27. AgeOfSophizm

    Yeah, it’s amazing the economist didn’t pick up on the importance of recommendations and filters, thereby completely discrediting Chris Anderson’s Long Tail Theory. Something like this is a secular shift and will take time, but my guess is the blockbuster loses out.

  28. TDKlein

    I came to this post late and scanned the comments without finding the point i’d like to make. if it’s there already, my apologies. I simply wanted to say thank you for not using the words “New” or “Old” before the word “Media” in your post’s title. I really think we’re past that, certainly from an investment standpoint and increasingly from a user’s standpoint. It’ just Media now, no more, no less.

  29. ShanaC

    Honestly- best advice: Call the people at the MIT Media Lab. And people like John Madea and Ben Fry. And Pay the $25 to see what the “renegade” art community (I mean it as a joke, its artist thing) at the Rhizome Art Base shows @ The New Musuem has, alongside what people are talking about/showing at places like Eyebeam.The reason is if you can understand the refinement of aggregation and the choices made in an artpiece, and there are types of Internet Artpeices that work on this principle, you’ll get design ideas. They’re custom though- you want to talk to the people behind it because between the texts I’m reading and my own practices (which is not aggreagtion in Net Art) interaction design and computing and interaction based art and computing makes people want to go “f***” because the language to describe its problems has not been developed fully, some of the basic mechanics have not been developed, etc, etc, etc.It’s difficult to work in a such a purely mediated environment to make more media -which is why you are having this problem. It is why you see basic problems for things like paper replacement in computing: Humans are hugely complicated, socially, biologically, anything, and making work around the complications is frustrating.Therefore, talk to the pros and check what they are doing and why. You don’t have to like everything they do- you just have to understand it. It gives you some sense of possible paths….