BuzzFeed as well as the electronic media bubble


It came as a shock to the digital news industry when over 100 employees, most of them colleagues, recently lost their jobs in companies including BuzzFeed, HuffPost and Vice.

Only five years back, these electronic information outlets were viewed as the future of journalism. But the layoffs suggest that click-based promotion revenue on the business model where the companies rely, doesn’t permit them to pay for their newsrooms.

Then there’s the problematic reliance on Facebook and Google to distribute content that is digital. The two giants are currently eating the majority of advertising earnings that are electronic up, leaving the Buzzfeeds of this world in roughly the exact same place as newspapers and other legacy news businesses before them trying to discover new versions to make their businesses work.

“We’re used to conventional media firms losing folks… But folks expected that BuzzFeed along with Vice and other electronic firms were the near future of electronic media,” says Mathew Ingram, chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review. 

It’s an industry-wide contraction that feels like a correction and amounts to an admission that for many their indie sass and swagger, the Buzzfeeds and Vices of their information world are dependent on the tech giants as a child is about its own parents. But Hipster cred will only get you so far and they want Facebook and Google to survive.

“It is about the function that Google and Facebook have played in delivering audiences ,” explains Keach Hagey, media and tech reporter in the Wall Street Journal. “They both have algorithms they are continuously changing without caution, and publishers will see their traffic tank overnight with no capability to react to it. The problem is that when you rely upon Facebook as your own supply mechanism, if Facebook changes, you really are at their mercy.”

One model that is apparently working in a restricted way, is your conservative subscription model that all these news organisations have abandoned.

Even though BuzzFeed, Vice and HuffPost were shedding staff, the New York Times declared it now employs 1,600 journalists, and the most in its history, and that it stopped 2018 with a record 3.3 million digital subscribers, a 27 percent growth over the last year.

Having persuaded many Americans that their schooling is worth supporting, newspapers like the Times and the Washington Post are thriving – the direct beneficiaries of President Donald Trump‘s strikes on the US news media.

But, hardly any news outlets have the name recognition and prestige of the Times or the Washington Post. Along with the electronic newbies have gone all-in on the advertising model that was electronic. For better or worse. For richer or for poorer.

Maybe not”all hope is lost”, according to Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of Anti-Social Media. “However, it will mean that we have to confront the 2 dragons: Facebook and Google. If we fail to confront Facebook and Google and their terrifying ability to distort journalism, then to corrupt journalism and to crush journalism, then we are in trouble”


Keach Hagey – Media and technology reporter, Wall Street Journal

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen – Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

Siva Vaidhyanathan – University of Virginia and author of both Anti-Social Media

Mathew Ingram – Chief electronic writer, Columbia Journalism Review

Source:  Al Jazeera


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