Recent quotes:

The GOP Must Choose Between Conspiracy and Reality - The Atlantic

The way Americans are consuming and producing news—or what passes for it these days—is driving us mad. This has been said many times, but the problem has worsened in the past five years. On the supply side, media outlets have discovered that dialing up the rhetoric increases clicks, eyeballs, and revenue. On the demand side, readers and viewers like to see their opinions affirmed, rather than challenged. When everybody’s outraged, everybody wins—at least in the short term. This is not a problem only on the right or only on obscure blogs. The underlying economics that drive Fox News and upstarts such as One America News to cultivate and serve ideologically distinct audiences also drive MSNBC, CNN, and The New York Times. More and more fiercely, media outlets rally their audience behind the latest cause du jour, whether it’s battling supposed election fraud or abolishing local police departments.

The Wall Street Journal shutters eight blogs: “The tools for telling” stories have changed » Nieman Journalism Lab

“If it were 100 years ago, this would have lasted for 50 years, but the way technology changes and the way reader nature changes every five years now, its lifespan was just so much shorter,” New York Times metro editor Wendell Jamieson said at the time. “That doesn’t mean it wasn’t an important bridge, but it’s a different industry than it was when City Room launched. It’s truly the post-blog era, and I barely had time to get into the blog era.”

What is the future of news? Bleak, probably. - Vox

I really think that what we're seeing now with this influx of fake news is the end result of the systemic defunding of media entities for the past 10 years, if not more. We could see this happening in slow motion. We all knew that as trusted media entities began producing less investigative stories, less hard news stories, an information vacuum would emerge into which bullshit and propaganda would drop. This was inevitable.

The media doesn't see its own pampered blindness.

Despite claiming to “know” Mr. Jobs after “scores of hours in private conversations,” Mr. Mossberg of ReCode said in his column: “I know very little about his relationship with his daughter Lisa.”

A decade of media evolution in two paragraphs

Websites, Vox included, have been able to accumulate enormous audiences with incredible speed by harvesting referrals from social networks. These rapidly convened audiences felt contiguous because they ended up, eventually, on publishers’ websites; they felt […]real because advertising teams could sell web ads against them. Websites plausibly marketed these people as members of their audiences, rather than temporarily diverted members of a platform’s audience. […]The illusion of audience ownership is becoming harder to sustain, and the audiences are getting bigger and bigger. 2013 was the year every major site with a social strategy broke traffic records by a mile;[…]2015, when a single weird or clever native Facebook video can easily out-traffic a week of a site’s web content, is the year it’s becoming clear to everyone who these audiences really belong to, and what it means to borrow them. 2016 is the year we find out what the price of access will be.

Al-Qaeda as a media company

While Osama Bin Laden was a terrorist ringleader, his successors and followers at AQAP are quite literally running a media company, targeting a particular, underserved, mostly millennial demographic. AQAP’s products are based on the notion that jihad is not only a religious necessity but a lifestyle choice for Western young people, one that needs instruction and reinforcement and its own chatty community of bloodthirstiness.

Stop using BuzzFeed to argue small news sites can’t make money | Simon Owens

But if you’re willing to either go niche or appeal to a highly selective, educated audience and don’t generate massive overhead costs, then yes, there’s plenty of profit to be had for “second and third tier” news sites.

Digital giants get bigger at the expense of the small blog sites

So the result of the 2014 new-money surge is that the world of online publishing has become bifurcated. Either you aspire to become a “platform”, or you simply join up with somebody else’s. (Take your choice: WordPress, Tumblr, Medium, YouTube or, of course, Facebook.) The small but self-sustaining bloggy site is a thing of the past: if you’re not getting 20-30 million unique visitors every month, and don’t aspire to such heights, then you’re basically an economic irrelevance. Advertisers won’t touch you, you won’t make any money, and your remaining visitors will inexorably leach away as they move from their desktops to their phones.

Buzzfeed will implode, quothe Wolff

While Denton has rebuffed all offers to buy his profitable business, the unprofitable BuzzFeed searches the market for a greater fool. Ben Smith, its top editor, told me recently he didn't expect BuzzFeed to be around in three years, not under its present owners nor in its present form.

Book publishers struggle to get people to test their wares

So why is the margin attributable to the ideas in a book so low, at times in fact negative, whereby the total revenue earned by the book is less than the cost of producing and distributing it? Not because our society doesn’t value literature, as so many of us complain, but because it takes so long to discover whether or not you’ll actually like the book. Publishers offer the world a massive discount on what should be the true mark-up on manufacturing and distribution in order to persuade us to try something out, to gamble. To get us to risk wasting our time, they try to minimize the risk that we might be wasting our money. Perversely, publishers are unable to capture the upside. If it turns out we are not wasting our time and do get a wonderful experience, we get it for $1–$2 an hour, an order of magnitude cheaper than film, theatre, live music, recorded music, dance, a bar, a restaurant, a museum. We do so because a book is a much more unknown quantity, less susceptible to summary.
“It’s noticeable that the Kremlin is much more tempered than Russian TV but can’t change it,” Pavlovsky says. “It’s fallen into a trap, so it's now trying to function within the strictures of this picture.” He cites the example of the PR contortions the Kremlin had to use just to announce that it would not send troops into eastern Ukraine. “In this seemingly controlled media, any rational political arguments of the state have to be hidden and packaged in idiotic, jingoistic rhetoric,” Pavlovsky says.
The reasons for the switch were not immediately clear.
The company’s attitude toward content management has its roots in the basement of Trei Brundrett, now Vox’s chief product officer. It was there that he and some partners developed SB Nation, a sports blogging website that became wildly popular when it was introduced nine years ago. Mr. Brundrett and his crew cast themselves as equal parts journalists and software developers.
Yet one of the few reliable laws of history is that old media have a habit of surviving. An over-exuberant New York journalist announced in 1835 that books, theatre, even religion “have had their day” and the daily newspaper would become “the greatest organ of social life”. Theatre outlasted not only the newspaper, but also cinema and then television. Radio has flourished in the TV age; cinema, in turn, has held its own against videos and DVDs. In the first eight months of 2013, US hardback book sales rose 10 per cent while ebook sales fell. Even vinyl records have made a comeback, with sales on Amazon up 745 per cent since 2008.
These days, the idea of being a “good reader” or a “good critic” is very much out of fashion — not because we believe that such creatures do not exist, but because we all identify as both. The machine of consumerism is designed to encourage us all to believe that our preferences are significant and self-revealing; that a taste for Coke over Pepsi, or for KFC over McDonald’s, means something about us; that our tastes comprise, in sum, a kind of aggregate expression of our unique selfhood.
Inside larger media companies, folks like Atlantic Media’s Kevin Delaney, Digital First’s Jim Brady, NPR’s Matt Thompson, Newsweek’s Alex Leo, my USA Today Sports colleague Jamie Mottram, The New York Times’ Aron Pilhofer, Twitter’s Geoff Reiss, and many others. In the media startup ecosystem (alphabetically listed and apologizing for glaring omissions), it’s folks like Skift’s Rafat Ali, The Awl’s Alex Balk and Choire Sicha, Vox’s Trei Brundrett, Lockhart Steele, and Alexis Juneja, Circa’s David Cohn and Anthony DeRosa, CityNotes’ Dan Frommer, MediaREDEF’s Jason Hirschhorn, Medium’s Kate Lee, The Information’s Jessica Lessin, Buzzfeed’s Jonah Peretti and Ben Smith, MediaTakeOut’s Ron Mwangaguhunga, The Toast’s Mallory Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe, PolicyMic’s Liz Plank, TheList’s Rachel Sklar and Glynnis MacNichol, serial starter Elizabeth Spiers, The Skimm’s Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin, NowThis News’ Katharine Zaleski, and others — including longtime industry kingpins like Gawker’s Nick Denton and Gigaom’s Om Malik.
In other words, there’s things which are true on the internet — like that letter from a disappointed grandpa, or a video of a failed twerk. The Internet is getting increasingly good at generating such content — so good, indeed, that the bar is getting raised, and the chances of successfully viral content simply emerging naturally from the world are getting ever slimmer. There’s now so much fake content out there, much of it expertly engineered to go viral, that the probability of any given piece of viral content being fake has now become pretty high.
We call these new generation of companies as “Mediata Companies.” Chalk us up as one of them, as we attempt to answer some of these questions above in building out Skift. Other startups like Mattermark, Indicate, Pricenomics, SuperData Research, and even Nate Silver's 538 are trying subtle variations of the mediata theme, some more scalable than the others.All of us are focused on competitive intelligence, one way or the other. All of us look back to the original media-meets-data inspiration, Bloomberg, built on proprietary closed systems for a very targeted set.But the new generation of mediata companies are looking beyond the traditional business media companies in their set, and instead looking at the best of consumer web and mobile product-driven companies, creating mashups in the best sense of that phrase: hybrid, curated, lean, API-hungry, open and multi-faceted, built at the intersection of design and user-experience.
Because inherent in the artist’s creative inspiration is the process of subliminally sniffing out environmental change. It’s always been the artist who perceives the alterations in man caused by a new medium, who recognizes that the future is the present, and uses his work to prepare the ground for it. But most people, from truck drivers to the literary Brahmins, are still blissfully ignorant of what the media do to them; unaware that because of their pervasive effects on man, it is the medium itself that is the message, not the content, and unaware that the medium is also the massage — that, all puns aside, it literally works over and saturates and molds and transforms every sense ratio. The content or message of any particular medium has about as much importance as the stenciling on the casing of an atomic bomb. But the ability to perceive media-induced extensions of man, once the province of the artist, is now being expanded as the new environment of electric information makes possible a new degree of perception and critical awareness by nonartists.
I call this peculiar form of self-hypnosis Narcissus narcosis, a syndrome whereby man remains as unaware of the psychic and social effects of his new technology as a fish of the water it swims in. As a result, precisely at the point where a new media-induced environment becomes all pervasive and transmogrifies our sensory balance, it also becomes invisible.
Each of the site’s journalists (there are currently about 50) has a page where their content lives, and a discussion forum. When someone subscribes to them for $5 a month, Beacon takes a cut — the amount is in flux, but it is around 60 percent on average — and then the reader gets access to all of the site’s other writers. Some of the proceeds from each subscription also go into a pool that is shared by all of the journalists on the platform.
Multi-layer hierarchy is the plague of legacy media. The org chart should be minimalist. A management team of five dedicated, experienced editors is sufficient to lead a 24/365 news structure. Add another layer for production tasks and that’s pretty much it. As for the headcount, it depends on the scope of the news coverage: My guess is a newsroom of 100-150, including a production staff (I’ll come back to that in a moment) can do a terrific  job.
We would also urge upon the people of each community to necessity of giving their paper the most cordial support. The local paper is what gives strangers their knowledge of the character of the people, of the country where the paper is published, and in proportion to the support given will the journal be conducted. The town that is not able or which refuses to support its local paper lacks the enterprise that will bring prosperity to the county and deserves to sink into decay. But that town that has a live, fearless and energetic newspaper, and there are many of them, sends the intelligence all over the land and the people know that such towns are thriving and prosperous. It is, of course, the proper thing to subscribe to at least one of the large city dailies, but the first duty of the citizen is to support his local journal for the sake of patronizing home industries if for no other, but the return he will receive will far outmeasure all that it will cost him. The press has ever upheld the strictest principles of morality, truth and justice, and citizens may well be proud of the many able exponents of their principles.
The New York Times, say, reaches far more readers than ever online. But of its 17 million unique visitors a month (in the US, where it’s far easier and more lucrative for the paper to sell ads), a sizable chunk click one story via Twitter or HuffPo or some such site and don’t return. The truly valuable digital readers are a core of about 5 to 10 percent who are heavy users of or its apps. Those readers spend many hours a month reading the NYT online. The 700,000 who pay an average $202 a year to do so are what you might call the super-valuable online readers.
Onion has its Onion Labs, a serious branded content team that creates Onion-like parodies for brands. And The Huffington Post recently launched its HuffPost Partner Studio, an in-house creative agency for brands to produce sponsored content tailored to the HuffPost audience and environment. And now, Condé Nast's Wired is officially unveiling a new unit called Amplifi; its mandate is to create content for brands that's highly tailored to the Wired reader while labeled as promotional. So far, it’s churned out a crowd-sourced tablet magazine for Cisco and a custom blog for Marriott on travel for geeks. A mosaic-like print ad for Fiat that's running in the September issue also was the product of Amplifi.
The Grahams (or the Sulzbergers, or the Newhouses, or the Chandlers, or the Bancrofts) never thought of their journalists and editors that way. And the fact is that while you can achieve better profits by cutting here and maximizing there, you can never achieve long-term greatness that way. Greatness emerges mysteriously from the slack in the system, from source lunches and newsroom cross-pollination and expensive editorial whims. It emerges, ultimately, from the ability to give people time and space and money, in the certain knowledge that most of that time and space and money will end up being wasted, and embracing that waste as a good and ultimately necessary thing.