Audience comes first, then serious, investigative journalism comes later. That the Internet turns the old newspaper model upside down seems to be one of the key lessons we can learn from recent new ventures in journalism.
Buzzfeed, long a purveyor d’excellence of cat videos, is now beefing up its staff and aims to become the main news source for the social generation. Its experience, and that of Huffington Post, which just received its first Pulitzer, shows that, if you build audience on the Internet first, you’ll then get the funds to invest in building up your “serious journalism” efforts. Mark Glaser had a good Media Shift podcast on this last month.
Matthew Ingram also writes about this today. There, he is also including Vice in the equation. Vice seems to follow the model of do gonzo journalism first, then become a bit more serious. After stunts like the Rodman North Korea trip, Vice is now valued at $1.4 billion. Although they’re still running articles that are just flat-out weird, such as this one on subliminal messaging in Spotify.
Business Insider, one of my favorite Internet news sources, has long been derived for being just listicles and ALL CAPS-headlines such as “the ONE CHART that shows why the EUROZONE is DOOMED”, but it really is one of the smartest sources for “financial markets with a twist” news.
What this means is that journalism is changing. What is journalism now? It’s no longer just writing and interviewing, it’s now coding, data visualizations, social media spreading. The Atlantic wrote recently on how journalism school should adapt. If they don’t, budding new-era journalists can just go straight to Quartz, where they can start using their open-source charting tool.
If it continues like this, maybe we’ll see soon Zero Hedge, one of the finest purveyors of gonzo financial journalism, receive its first Pulitzer for its in-depth reporting on the next financial crisis.
Photo credit: Key Foster