Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Media: Nieman Lab. Predictions for Journalism, 2024.

This is terrible, SocGen's macro analyst may have permeated my being.

The first thing I thought of last month upon seeing the Nieman Lab headline was:

Season's Greetings From Société Générale's Albert Edwards (Nov. 14, 2012)
Expect the New Year to bring nothing but disappointment....

Fortunately, I almost immediately remembered that 2024 is a Presidential election year, giving full employment prospects to journos everywhere, even the electron-stained wretches toiling in unbylined anonymity creating crossword puzzles and writing obituaries.

The incremental $5 -10 billion* in political ad spending  will be a balm for dessicated coffers.

From Nieman Lab:

"Scale is a trap"

“If we want to solve this problem of informing audiences, we need to do the hard work of finding them and engaging them at their level. And that means going niche.” 

At the tail end of 2023, we’re starting to see the decay or active dismantling of a number of the bastions of scale that shaped the digital news experience throughout the 2010s.

Sure, some outlets closely associated with this time period are still holding on effectively, like The Verge and The Daily Beast. But companies like Vice and BuzzFeed saw their fortunes decline heavily throughout 2023. G/O Media, the private equity-backed holding company that descended from the legendary Gawker Media, has become a home for many of these built-for-scale sites, like The Root and Quartz, and has sold off others, like Lifehacker and Jezebel, which no longer fit their ad-obsessed model.

(Jezebel was taken off life support, out of nowhere, last month; it was acquired by Paste Media amid an outcry and just relaunched.)

But I’m pretty convinced the reason these sites have struggled to meet the moment is because the model under which they were built — eyeballs at all cost, built for social media and Google search results — is no longer functional.

We can blame a lot of things for this, such as brand safety and having to work through perhaps the most aggressive commercial gatekeepers that the world has ever seen. But I think the truth is, after seeing how well it worked for the tech industry, we made a bet on scale — and then watched that bet fail over and over again....