Journalism, disrupted

And yet I have the feeling that only one or two years from now, this “obvious” theory (which won’t be “news” to my regular readers) will seem as goofy as the Piltdown Man.

We make fun of “received wisdom” a lot, and with good reason.

But we have to  constantly question “our side’s” received wisdom as well.


Sometimes, the question is raised: How did journalism get here? Disruption theory, the report argues, is applicable from industry to industry. “New entrants to a field establish a foothold at the low end and move up the value network – eating away at the customer base of incumbents – by using a scalable advantage and typically entering the market with a lower-margin profit formula.” (Think Japanese automakers that were once considered a joke and now challenge the best that Europe can offer, the report says.)

The journalism examples of the classic disruptor are The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed, they argue. These new outfits haven’t invested in the expensive overhead of legacy organizations — they have, instead, “invested in only those resources critical to survival in the new world.” And because they started off as aggregators, providing content that daily newspapers and evening newscasts had no interest in producing – such as pictures of cute cats – these “new-market disruptors” initially weren’t a threat to traditional media, Christensen, Skok and Allworth explain.

But while the incumbent media was “[staying] the course on content, competing along the traditional definition of ‘quality,’” the new-market disruptors were delivering content to an audience which isn’t traditional consumers of daily papers and evening newscasts.

“Once established at the market’s low end, the disruptors—by producing low-cost, personalized and, increasingly, original content—move into the space previously held by the incumbents.”

Now, The Huffington Post has a Pulitzer Prize and digital advertising gains aren’t making up for traditional revenue losses.

Traditional journalism, disrupted.

Note however the excellent insight that all these blogs were NOT just (to overturn the other side’s received wisdom) “stealing their material from newspapers” — see the “cute cats” line, above.

Aggregator blogs combined outright stealing from the MSM and giving the people what they really wanted, i.e. baby animals.

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