There’s something fascinating going on in journalism lately, and we are 100% here for it. It bodes well for journalism and the state of news in this country overall.
According to Scott Nover in AdWeek, legacy media outlets like the New York Times are poaching top talent from big-name digital media brands.
“Just look at who’s at the Times: Recode co-founder Kara Swisher is an opinion columnist and podcast host; Choire Sicha, once the top editor of Gawker and The Awl, runs the Style section; Ben Smith, former editor in chief of BuzzFeed News, is the media columnist; and last Friday, Ezra Klein announced he’s leaving Vox, the website he edited and co-founded, to become an opinion writer and podcast host at The Times,” Nover reports.
Of course, the Times’ 7 million subscriber base and huge digital footprint are part of the appeal to journalists. Yet there’s more to it here, Nover explains, noting the slide in digital journalism over the last few years. The digital newsroom is facing what traditional media went through in the digital disruption … massive cuts to the newsroom, and a lack of resources to get their jobs done properly.
According to Rob Ristango, CEO of The Sterling Woods Group, this is a problem for digital news brands, because journalists need “the confidence that they’ll have the resources to produce outstanding content.”
The shift in talent back toward traditional media was sped up by the pandemic, but Nover believes it was going to happen eventually.
“With local news in decline, legacy outlets like the Times and The Washington Post have recruited heavily in recent years from the outlets that Sicha, Swisher, Smith and Klein once led, especially to fill in its rank-and-file,” Nover writes. “While staff reporters once hailed almost exclusively from smaller local papers, The Times’ Washington Bureau is full of ex-Politico reporters, while its Midtown headquarters hosts veterans of HuffPost, Vice and Slate.”
And let’s stop calling it “legacy media,” Nover suggests, noting the NYT is “arguably the world’s leading news brand.” Digital media companies, on the other hand, were born giving away their copy and existing on digital ad revenue. They haven’t properly figured out how to monetize their content through subscriptions or memberships.
This, along with another trend of digital journalists leaving companies to start independent newsletters to leverage their following, leaves digital media at a crossroads.
“Important decisions must be made about business models, recruiting new journalists, and how to retain top talent,” Nover writes.
With a country, indeed a world, searching for credibility and truth, the role of journalism is under a microscope. The fact that digitally born journalists are now seeking positions in a traditional brand like the NYT tells me the industry is on the right path.