Media Oxpecker: Jeff Bezos and the Great Unbundling of News

Plus: 85 million unique visitors who will restore your faith in humanity

Every week we round up media news you may have missed while you were busy suing the governor.

  • Jeff Bezos visited the Washington Post this week to tour his recent purchase, and during a Q&A with the paper’s reporters he declared his admiration for the “daily ritual” of poring over the bundle of news which has been blown up by the web and social media. “The problem is how do we get back to that glorious bundle that the paper did so well?”

    Recent hire Timothy B. Lee (a.k.a. @binarybits) replies, “That daily ritual got blown up for good reason. Trying to recreate the ‘bundle’ experience in Web or tablet form means working against the grain of how readers, especially younger readers, consume the news today.”

    No matter how good your news organization is, most of the best journalism is being done somewhere else. That’s because no publication, even storied outlets such as the New York Times or The Washington Post, can hope to hire a majority of the world’s most talented journalists. And this is why the smartest readers have increasingly eschewed “bundled” news outlets in favor of third-party aggregators that provide them with links to the best news from around the Web …

    If this trend continues, and I think it will, then the future of news is one of radical unbundling. A large share of every publication’s traffic will come from referrals from third-party aggregators, and the key to success will be crafting content that performs well on these sites. Readers who prefer to read a publication’s news “bundle” from front to back will represent an aging and shrinking demographic.

  • BuzzFeed racked up 85 million unique visitors in August, founder Jonah Peretti revealed in a public memo to staff. “By this time next year we should be one of the biggest sites
    on the web,” he said.

    The numbers are impressive, but Peter Kafka asks why Peretti didn’t mention the site’s revenue, which is on track to hit $60 million this year:

    The bigger question for BuzzFeed is how sustainable all this is. Even if you assume that the site will continue to work its traffic magic — and Peretti and crew are really, really good at making things that people want to click on — its ads-that-aren’t-ads model is still a work in progress … those ads take lots of work to create, either by advertisers or BuzzFeed’s in-house staff. And it’s hard to rerun a “native” BuzzFeed ad on other sites, which means there will be a scale question on both ends. For now, though, it doesn’t seem to be a problem.

  • “The Internet has destroyed the traditional business model for a lot of industries. Is it set to destroy advertising, too?” Salon’s Andrew Leonard on the success of ad-blocking software AdBlock Plus, and what it means for the future of internet advertising.

  • Two very different proposals from Baltimore City Paper staffers Edward Ericson Jr. and Joe MacLeod to buy their paper from Times Shamrock.

  • Four ways to start thinking about native advertising.

  • Jay Rosen revisits the question of what journalism is and where the authority of a journalist originates.

  • Underdog businesses are more likely to post fake Yelp reviews, says a recent study.

  • And finally, Coastal Carolina University has prohibited the distribution of the Weekly Surge on its campus, ostensibly because the Myrtle Beach alt-weekly’s editorial and advertising content is heavily-focused on alcohol, which will encourage student to imbibe. Says editor Kent Klimes, “I read plenty of news articles about murder, rape, war, robbery, fraud and the like and they haven’t led me to a life of crime.”

Leave a Reply