The “right-sizing” of Time Inc.

The amount of corporate-speak in the memo from Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp regarding layoffs at that company today is truly astounding. I’d be impressed if I didn’t know it meant lots and and lots of journalists were going to be joining the proverbial breadlines as the business spins out from Time Warner and attempts to make its own way in the weary world of today’s media landscape.

Where to even begin? Perhaps with “right-size,” which means “downsize,” of course. But the entire memo is a marvel of meaninglessness: “operational efficiencies,” “reengineer the business,” “redundant positions,” “positioning ourselves for transformation,” “restructuring process,” “streamlining decision-making.”

The sentence that is truly stupefying: “A single Time Inc. portfolio will give us more operational flexibility, speed decision-making and spur the development of new cross-brand products and revenue streams to help stabilize and grow our top-line revenues.”

Every journalist there must surely be thinking, “Boy, I can’t wait to have more operational flexibility so I can help stabilize and grow our top-line revenues!”

Time Inc. should be in the business of calling out this kind of nonsense, stocked as it is with Fortune, Money and the mother ship, Time. Sadly, there’s no one left at the business to write an article about it, let alone analyze the broader trend that the largest magazine publisher in the world laying off 6 percent or so of its workers (on the heels of laying off 6 percent a year ago) is a harbinger of doom for media.

I feel terrible for all those journalists who’ve lost jobs today. Let’s hope Time Inc. truly can save itself by “dissolv[ing] the complex matrixed organization” it created in the heyday of publishing and “free[ing] up investment dollars to deploy in growth areas.” Whatever that means.

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A place for magazines

There is a reason that phones, tablets, minis, laptops and desktop computers all exist. Each does a different thing. Sometimes only a slightly different thing, but a different thing nonetheless. And with a few exceptions, we use different products and brands as we perform different tasks on these different devices, depending on what we’re trying to accomplish.

If you’re checking your Facebook feed, the difference between doing so on your iPhone, your iPad and your iPad mini isn’t apparent. But if you’re writing a message to a long-lost friend on Facebook, ideally you want to do so via your laptop or desktop, using a tactile keyboard, on the web. (And maybe you even want to write it first using a word-processing application.) If you’re trying to research Twitter trends or simultaneously monitor thousands of tweets, the Twitter mobile app just won’t cut it (not even Twitter’s website will cut it sometimes—just ask Tweetdeck). If you’re gaming, Candy Crush is fine on a phone, but if you want to play a graphics-intensive game, you’d be advised to do so using a heavy-duty desktop machine or a gaming console. Blog posts are easily tweaked on WordPress’s app, but I wouldn’t want to compose several thousand words by plunking them out on a virtual keyboard. I’d never want to watch Gravity on my phone.

On and on—you get the point. Or, rather, I will get to the point. Magazines are ideally meant to be enjoyed on paper at leisure. The long articles, the beautiful photos, the envy-inducing ads, the feel of the pages in the hand, the tearing out of things to remember. With the exception of some news journalism, very few brands work on absolutely all devices. The New York Times and Buzzfeed, to name two, do an exceptional job cross-platform. But even then, those in-depth, well-reported 10,000-word profiles that the Times does so well? I can’t sit still long enough to read them on the web, let alone while squinting and scrolling on a phone. Buzzfeed’s GIF-sticles? Good luck getting them to load and animate as quickly as you want them to on a tablet.

I’ve written before about how dismally magazine apps perform and tried to propose theories as to why that might be. But maybe it’s simpler than all that. Maybe it’s not more visibility in the app store or better PR or more intrusive update alerts or a consistent user experience. Maybe it’s as simple as: Each task we perform in our lives has an appropriate medium.

Last month, while lamenting the lack of innovation surrounding magazine apps, I wrote:

Jon Lund reported in October that “there’s not much room for magazine apps” on people’s phones and tablets, considering that the average mobile user has 41 apps on his or her smartphone but opens only eight of them daily.

But maybe users stick to those eight apps simply because those are the eight that work best on their phones. Maybe they don’t bother with magazine apps not because magazine apps suck, but because they don’t use their phones to read magazines.

Maybe it’s simply that magazines aren’t truly viable in any meaningful way except for in the form they’ve taken for hundreds of years. (“Meaningful” in a literary sense, but also in the sense of those often-mentioned new revenue models we’re all still waiting to see take shape.)

Of course, some journalism works just great across devices. Quick text-based blog posts, 500-word essays, two-sentence breaking-news alerts—all are welcome, whether I’m on the couch with my tablet, on the move with my phone or at my desk with my laptop.

But in the vast majority of cases, every medium has its best form of distribution—magazines, yes, but also television, movies, books, etc. A place for everything, and everything in its place. So why is the media industry trying to make itself viable across all platforms? Pick a thing, realize its potential, realize its limitations, and do it well.

I previously said that “unlike many apps, the media’s brand relevance and reputation absolutely hinges on an amazing user experience across devices at all times. In short, it has to be perfect.” I stand by that. But if it can’t be perfect—and we’re realizing that it cannot—I don’t think the next best answer is to half-ass a magazine app, a website and the magazine itself. I think if there is any progress to be made, it will be by using technology to focus on task- and purpose-based distribution instead of trying to be all things to all people (and devices).

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Diagnosis for magazine apps: Terminal lack of innovation

Yes, I’m quoting myself back to myself. Is there an echo in here? But almost a year ago to the day, I asked whether magazine apps would be the ruin of publishers, noting that they spend countless dollars producing a product that few readers know or care about. I said that the app field has been leveled, and as an industry the media needed to develop a strategy around apps instead of blindly groping in the dark. In fact, I called for the media to out-and-out rewrite the rules to benefit our business! Rah-rah!

None of that happened.

And here we are, a year later, and things are worse than ever for tablet magazine apps. Eddie Vassallo’s piece on Gigaom today points out that this summer’s iOS7 update made things even worse for publishers, deemphasizing the Newsstand app, hiding its contents and removing its update alerts.

Jon Lund reported in October that “there’s not much room for magazine apps” on people’s phones and tablets, considering that the average mobile user has 41 apps on his or her smartphone but opens only eight of them daily.

Not to be all “I told you so” about it, but that’s what happens when you rely on others’ rules and don’t spend capital inventing or investing in ways to put your product into the public consciousness, be it via technology or user experience or content quality.

In summary, the situation is even worse than it was a year ago, when it was eminently obvious to me — a workaday journalist and decidely amateur observer of the media industry — that tablet magazine apps were sounding the death knell. So how is it not now utterly apparent to those who have the ability to actually instigate change?

Vassallo says that “it’s absolutely understandable that choosing the apparent ‘quick win’ of InDesign-generated apps…or even PDF-wrapper solutions provide a cheap and rapid route to the App store. But it’s been a false economy, and there simply is no time to waste waiting for things to improve,” adding that “It’s time for magazine publishers to abandon the easy options and make the hard decisions that will save their digital titles.”

If I could go back in time and metaphorically shake Vassallo, his clients and anyone else who would listen by the shoulders, I’d do it. With tablet sales skyrocketing yet spending on new media models nonexistent, I am gobsmacked at the lack of leadership across the magazine and newspaper industries. I’m concerned about what the future of media can possibly be if we are collective deer in the headlights as the big rig of technology bears down on us.

I said it a year ago and I’ll repeat it today: We must harness our strengths and lead ourselves forward.

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The costs of being a freelance journalist

The Awl published a Noah Davis piece that last week in which the writer uses actual numbers, down to the dollar and number of invoices, to account for how much money he’s been able to make as a freelance journalist. It begins as less a takedown of how hard it is to survive in the new gig economy than a freelance economics lesson, or maybe a complex math equation.

Freelancing for websites is nearly unsustainable, especially in the one-off pitch, write and edit sense. But here’s the thing: It rarely makes financial sense for the website, either…. Revenue streams on the Internet are too nascent and too in-flux to provide anything concrete. A growing number of publications are able to pay something, which is an improvement, but the value of the written word cratered simply because most of the Internet’s publications, unlike their printed forebears, has no subscriber base.

Davis acknowledges that though he is doing OK for now, he doesn’t know how, or even whether, journalism will survive long-term. But at least he doesn’t claim that he has the answers, unlike so many other so-called new-media experts. He doesn’t recommend “monetizing” better or going “platform native” or making more engaging ads (as though that were even possible). He just lays out the real costs of making words, saying, “There’s a vital distinction to be made between artistic value and monetary value.”

Saying that “print isn’t the rule; it’s the exception,” he quotes the great Ann Friedman, the writer, editor and GIF enthusiast who used to work at Good: “My plan that I’m going to supplement my weekly web income with a few big print stories might not be feasible even two years down the road. I’m aware of that. But for me, it’s a race against time. How can I build a personal brand as a journalist, not to Andrew Sullivan levels or anything, but the recognition that I have job security before the parachute of print assignments goes away? That’s how I see my personal calculus.”

A race against time. The parachute of print assignments that will go away. Personal brand as a journalist. Bracing stuff. (The woman is known for her #realtalk, after all.)

Stating the obvious, namely that “the Internet democratized writing,” Davis cites some troubling numbers:

The number of “writers” exploded, even while one estimate for the number of official jobs for full-time journalists decreased from 61,000 in 1997 to 45,500 in 2012.

He goes into a bit of a tangent about how the real problem might be that up-and-comers don’t have mentors now, and that’s definitely true, especially because journalism, more than most careers, is an almost entirely on-the-job learning experience. But if you asked a clerk, mail carrier or stock broker, I’m certain they’d make the same claim — without calling their jobs a (cue eye roll) craft. Without getting too deeply into the mire, I can state unequivocally that I learned everything I know about making words and making them better through my various jobs and the people who were kind enough to teach me.

But back to Davis, who concludes that he likes life as a freelance writer for the most part:

The lack of long-term stability can be troubling, especially on those frustrating days when editors aren’t returning my emails, but that’s a conscious trade-off I made for being able to go running in the middle of the day…. In a world that’s less about traditional, one-company one-job careers and more about bouncing around and trying to find a way, it works for now.

How long “for now” lasts is a bigger problem as we kick the can down the Future of Journalism road. Still, the post is an enlightening take on the real world of freelancing, good and bad, and worth a read in full.

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Time Inc.’s, and the media’s, death by a thousand cuts

Michael Wolff isn’t my favorite person. Actually, I find him quite loathsome — repellent and creepy in the same way I find Woody Allen and Ricky Gervais. He has described himself as a crank and an obnoxious know-it-all, and he has a decidedly Mr. Burns quality about him. But as a chronicler of the media industry, its rise and its collapse, the guy is singular and clear-headed. (Call me a sap: I started to pay him slightly more mind after reading his heartbreaking essay about his aging mother in New York.)

In his essay detailing the decline of Time Inc. from “greatest magazine company in the history of the form” to “farce,” Woolf levels his gaze at several factors that led to that company’s downfall. He applies his trademark snarky criticism, of course. But what caught my eye was not just the utter truth of it, which I’ll get to in a moment, it’s that in it Wolff displays a stunning encyclopedic institutional knowledge that’s lacking in most news reporting on media, let alone specific news about this merger (or sale, or whatever we’re calling this new magazine company that will be run by Meredith with mostly Time Inc. titles). This essay is precisely the kind of media reportage that’s going the way of the dodo (or, more to the point, the way of print). I doubt Wolff had to look up a single fact in his piece. The knowledge probably rolled right out his head and into his fingertips; after all, the man has studied this industry, written about it and thought about it for decades.

Compare this with the latest garbage produced by…pretty much everyone these days. I’ve talked about David Carr’s pollyanna-ish views before. The entirely of Huffington Post’s media beat apparently consists of reprinting emails and press releases. Keith Kelly and Jeff Bercovici do a fair job not out-and-out fellating their media subjects most of the time, unlike some of their peers. But I can’t remember the last time either of them actually broke news, and I definitely don’t remember the last time Bercovici actually wrote anything controversial — or original, for that matter. This “article” about Tim O’Brien leaving the Huffington Post features zero original reporting; it’s just a republication of the internal email. Really? There’s nothing more to dig in on about the company’s allegedly “rule” that a person can’t both write a book and be on staff simultaneously? That’s a new one to me and everyone else in the industry, so there’s probably something else going on. Pick up a phone and call some people. This is called news reporting.

Back to Wolff’s piece, which doesn’t have a ton of original reporting either, but is instead an informed assessment of what Time Inc. was and could have been, followed by no small amount of anger and sadness about what it ultimately became — and even a bit of enthusiasm for the small life it might yet have left in it.

Even in the context of the general decline of the magazine business, Time Inc. warrants special shame and humiliation. Not long ago, it was America against the Italy and France of its two closest rivals, Conde Nast and Hearst. But then Time Inc. became the Soviet Union. Now it is likely to be taken over by Meredith. Meredith. From Des Moines. Which is, well, Iowa.

Wolff captures my experience of the Time Inc., and I’m sure everyone else’s who has worked there, too. It’s a frustration that we know these titles and their web presences are huge and influential, and we’re proud of them, but navigating through the “warring fiefdoms,” as he calls them, and “dysfunctional management” really take it out of you on a day-to-day basis, and that is why the company has stagnated and stalled — and finds itself in the position it does.

While vast resources and considerable brain power in the company were devoted to digital adaptation, the result was to do as little as possible while building as large a bureaucratic foundation as possible. I’m not sure there is any company that has spent so much time talking about its digital future to such little effect. This was farce on quite an amazing scale.

Wolff describes the “hopelessness and frustration” of editor-in-chief John Huey, and I assure you that trickles down.

Cuts became the constant norm. Quality disintegrated. Influence dissipated. The end of the company was all but certain. The raging hostilities within the enterprise made redemption or progress or a new idea or even good will impossible.

As soon as the world’s largest publisher hired an advertising executive instead of a publishing one to lead the company last year, it was obvious and inevitable that the company was headed toward oblivion. I know there are other factors at play, mostly macroeconomic ones — the ruinous economy, the dismal advertising climate, the digital (r)evolution. But it used to be that Time Inc. took pride in its ability to survive disaster. When I was there, I was bucked up more than once by the stories of the company surviving wars, catastrophes, the Depression. It seems hard to believe that what took down such a blue-chip publisher — with its own freakin’ building in midtown! — was…what? Banner ads and CPMs? Bureaucracy? Upping circ by lowering itself to the poor quality of its competitors? Bad decision making at high levels?

It’s a sad state of affairs. I guess this is what is meant by death by a thousand cuts. It’s too bad, because Time Inc. was always a beacon of quality and determination, a leader in the field. RIP. Which is a sentiment even the gimlet-eyed crank Michael Wolff can get behind.

Disclosure: I once worked at Time Inc. (obviously!) and at AOL.

Update: The Meredith deal fell through, and Time Warner announced March 7 that it plans to spin Time Inc. into an independent public company; current Time Inc. CEO Laura Lang will step down.

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RIP, EveryBlock

EveryBlock, a hyperlocal news start-up that used data to filter neighborhood news and spark discussion, has been shut down by its corporate overlord. Apparently, NBC News acquired it last year (which itself was news to me) but couldn’t find the business model to continue operating the site. That’s a common tale among hyperlocal news sites, but it still stings when one closes down.

It’s too bad — I think it had more going for it than many similarly themed sites — and its founder, Adrian Holovaty, seems shocked that the site has met its end. When he sold the site last year, he was proud of its success and confident in its future:

“EveryBlock users have used our service to accomplish amazing things in their neighborhoods: starting farmers markets, catching flashers, raising money for their community, finding/reporting lost pets…and generally getting to know their neighbors and forging community bonds. These days, something like this happens on the site nearly every day — which casual onlookers might not notice because of our long-tail, neighborhood-specific focus. EveryBlock has become a force for good, and it’s got a bright future.”

Sigh. I suppose it’s not particularly interesting that a start-up failed to locate a business strategy or that it didn’t “pivot” quickly enough to “disrupt” via its “MVP.” What is interesting about this case is that the site was a news-centric one that really challenged newsgathering tactics, asked questions about the use and display of public data and, in its small way, wrought lessons for the [cue horror-movie scream] Future of Journalism. It began, after all, as a recipient of a Knight Foundation grant.

Even more interesting is that it evolved so much over its short life (actually, wait, is six years long or short in technology?). When it began, it was just one news-tech guy’s realization that news should not be story-centric but instead should be gathered as structured data. He married the programmer’s philosophy of the separation of content and presentation with the journalist’s instincts for ever-better storytelling. Holovaty’s blog post from September 2006 is, in retrospect, both amusing and prescient. In it, he calls for parsing data and creating CMSes that support content types other than words, two notions that are laughably obvious six years later.

(On the flip side, also laughable are the mention of PDAs and the idea that tagging was “trendy.”)

Holovaty turned those 2006 idea germs into EveryBlock’s mapping and reporting functionality and, ultimately, he created a robust community around neighborhood news. The site put forth a notion of what the oft-dreaded Future of Journalism could be, or one version of it, anyway. It tried something new. It experimented. And the experiment did yield results; unfortunately, the conclusion was that this model might not be quite right.

In its sad and clearly hasty post today confirming the shutdown news, EveryBlock seems to acknowledge that it was a victim of the unforgiving pace of change in the online journalism industry:

“It’s no secret that the news industry is in the midst of a massive change. Within the world of neighborhood news there’s an exciting pace of innovation yet increasing challenges to building a profitable business. Though EveryBlock has been able to build an engaged community over the years, we’re faced with the decision to wrap things up.”

In short: “We tried. We’d like to keep trying, but trying doesn’t pay the bills.” And that’s too bad.

 

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Leave curation alone

A nice quick hit from CJR‘s Steven Rosenbaum today in favor of curation, which has somehow become a bad word in journalistic circles — or at least a misunderstood one.

Information overload drives content consumers to look for human-filtered, journalist-vetted, intellectually-related material. This hunger for coherence isn’t unreasonable; it’s essential.

Even in the days before information overload, contextual links to other interesting sites and articles were the norm. Now it seems that unless it’s part of a “strategic partnership” or is otherwise monetized, stories on the web are less about helping the user by providing useful context. This concept, among others, is well explored by Anil Dash is his post “The Web We Lost“:

Ten years ago, you could allow people to post links on your site, or to show a list of links which were driving inbound traffic to your site. Because Google hadn’t yet broadly introduced AdWords and AdSense, links weren’t about generating revenue, they were just a tool for expression or editorializing. The web was an interesting and different place before links got monetized, but by 2007 it was clear that Google had changed the web forever, and for the worse, by corrupting links.

As Dash points out, “This isn’t our web today.” I maintain that if startup founders and VCs funded solutions to the problems faced by media, instead of the latest location-based social check-in app or redundant e-commerce site, we could find solutions to help rebuild the industry.

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Broadway reviews, part three

My stint with the Broadway.com Word of Mouth Panel continues. In recent months, I’ve had the pleasure of taking in the fun but forgettable family fare that was the musical Elf; the entirely unforgettable The Other Place, starring sure-to-be Tony winner Laurie Metcalf in a heartrending performance; the delightful (if occasionally slow) biographical performance piece Ann, starring one of my favorites, Holland Taylor, as former Texas governor Ann Richards; and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, a Chekhov-inspired comedy (really!) that stars the surprisingly hilarious Sigourney Weaver. Click on my face to play the videos!

 

Elf video review:

The Other Place video review:

Ann video review:

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike video review:

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New Year’s media quote roundup


vs.

The Mayans were wrong, the holiday season has ended, New Year’s has come and gone, and we’re all settling in to 2013. It may be a new year, but it’s the same old problems for the future of journalism…or is it? Below, five of the most interesting nuggets I read this week about the state of print media, advertising and marketing.

1.

Andrew Sullivan, late of the Daily Beast, announced in a post called “New Year, New Dish, New Media” that he’s taking his site to the people. He’s leaving the advertiser-based media world entirely, as well as the venture-backed one:

We want to help build a new media environment that is not solely about advertising or profit above everything, but that is dedicated first to content and quality.

We want to create a place where readers — and readers alone — sustain the site. No bigger media companies will be subsidizing us; no venture capital will be sought to cushion our transition (unless my savings count as venture capital); and, most critically, no advertising will be getting in the way…. Hence the purest, simplest model for online journalism: you, us, and a meter. Period. No corporate ownership, no advertising demands, no pressure for pageviews.

2.

From an essay in yesterday’s NYT magazine called “Can Social Media Sell Soap?” by Stephen Baker on the value, or perceived value, of data- and social media-based marketing and advertising on social media today compared to the so-called heyday of advertising that’s depicted on Mad Men.

In the “Mad Men” depiction of an advertising firm in the ’60s, the big stars don’t sweat the numbers. They’re gut followers. Don Draper pours himself a finger or two of rye and flops on a couch in his corner office. He thinks…. Fellow humanists dominate Don Draper’s rarefied world, while the numbers people, two or three of them crammed into dingier offices, pore over Nielsen reports and audience profiles.

In the last decade however, those numbers people have rocketed to the top. They build and operate the search engines. They’re flexing their quantitative muscles at agencies and starting new ones. And the rise of social networks, which stream a global gabfest into their servers, catapults these quants ever higher. Their most powerful pitches aren’t ideas but rather algorithms. This sends many of today’s Don Drapers into early retirement.

While the rise of search battered the humanists, it also laid a trap that the quants are falling into now. It led to the belief that with enough data, all of advertising could turn into quantifiable science. This came with a punishing downside. It banished faith from the advertising equation. For generations, Mad Men had thrived on widespread trust that their jingles and slogans altered consumers’ behavior. Thankfully for them, there was little data to prove them wrong. But in an industry run remorselessly by numbers, the expectations have flipped. Advertising companies now face pressure to deliver statistical evidence of their success. When they come up short, offering anecdotes in place of numbers, the markets punish them. Faith has given way to doubt.

This leads to exasperation, because in a server farm packed with social data, it’s hard to know what to count. What’s the value of a Facebook “like” or a Twitter follower? What do you measure to find out?

3.

From a news item today titled “Two Custom-Publishing Powerhouses Join Forces,” by Stuart Elliott:

“We see a real shift going on from traditional advertising to a content-driven strategy,” Dan Kortick, managing partner at Wicks, said in a phone interview on Friday. “It’s more about engagement than exposure,” Mr. Kortick said, as content marketing offers “real engagement with your customer base.”

4.

Derek Thompson of The Atlantic weighs in on why web advertising sucks and which of the models described in the quotes above will work going forward (spoiler alert: it’s probably a combination of both, depending on the scale and the goal).

It’s commonly understood that Web advertising stinks, quarantined as it is in miserable banners and squares around article pages. BuzzFeed’s approach is different: It designs ads for companies that aim to be as funny and sharable as their other stories. Jonah Peretti, the CEO of BuzzFeed, told the Guardian’s Heidi Moore that he attributed nearly all the company’s revenues to this sort of “social” advertising. “We work with brands to help them speak the language of the web,” Peretti said. “I think there’s an opportunity to create a golden age of advertising, like another Mad Men age of advertising, where people are really creative and take it seriously.”

The online reaction to the Dish [striking out on its own, without advertising] and BuzzFeed [getting $20 million in funding] seems to be that what Andrew’s doing is sort of quaint and old-fashioned and what BuzzFeed is doing is weird and revolutionary. The opposite is true. Funding a journalistic enterprise without advertising is weird and revolutionary and experimenting with ads that are suitable to their medium is a clear echo of history. Just as the first radio ads were essentially newspaper ads read aloud, and the first television ads were little more than radio spots over static images, many on the Web are fighting the last war rather than building ads that work for the Internet, journalism history professor Michael Schudson explained to me.

Banners and pop-up ads are so awful they practically sulk in their acknowledged awfulness, fully aware that they are interruptions rather than attempts to compete with editorial content for the readers’ attention. BuzzFeed (and other companies experimenting with designing advertising for their advertisers) gets that and tries to fix it. Just as TV ads are successful precisely because they try to be as evocative, funny, arresting, and memorable as actual TV, there’s no reason why advertising content shouldn’t aim to be as informative or delightful as an original online piece.

Even as Sullivan’s Dish is pushing the boundaries of subscriptions, testing how much a dedicated audience is willing to pay for online journalism that is supposedly free, BuzzFeed is pushing the boundaries of advertorial — advertising content like looks like editorial content — testing how far each side of their two-sided market (readers and companies) is willing to go. The future of paid journalism — if we can even try to guess at it — will probably be a blend of the two strategies celebrated this week: Ads that are less useless and ignorable, and readers who are asked to show a little more love than they’re used to.

5.

Finally, let’s wrap up with yet another pollyanna-ish piece from David Carr, titled “Old Media’s Stalwarts Persevered in 2012.” He has postulated that “old media,” by which he means broadcast networks, are “raining green” because they’ve learned from happened to music and print.

The worries about insurgent threats [to broadcasters] from tech-oriented players like Netflix, Amazon and Apple turned out to be overstated. Those digital enterprises were supposed to be trouncing media companies; not only is that not happening, but they are writing checks to buy content…. “As it turns out, the traditional television business is far stickier than people thought, and audience behavior is not changing as rapidly as people thought it might,” said Richard Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG Research.

Perhaps the numbers support this for now — this quarter, this year — but I think that’s a temporary glitch of the awful economy, not a harbinger of the future. As Carr reports, these giant corporations, instead of spending money, paid out dividends and financed stock buybacks. So sure, the numbers are up…but stuffing your savings under the mattress is not a long-term strategy. And its certainly not one that will not work for all “old media,” which Carr eventually acknowledges:

Another thing about those dinosaurs is that they aren’t really old media in the sense of, um, newspapers. When their content is digitized, it is generally monetized, not aggregated.

I’ll ignore the irony of having aggregated the thoughts above. And I won’t even comment on five white guys having written them in the first place, and the stories themselves being about other white guys, and what these facts say about the future (or is it past?) of media and advertising. Happy 2013.

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Google, news

A sobering statistic that sheds light on the destruction of newspapers and magazines in the past half-decade.

In 2006, Google made $60 billion less than U.S. newspapers and magazines. Now it makes more ad money than all of U.S. print media combined. via

Yes, you read that right: Google’s $20 billion in ad revenue was better than every magazine and newspaper put together in 2012. Staggering.

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