This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
$1 buys you full access to ALL of TheStreet's Subscription Services! Learn More

#DigitalSkeptic: New Media News Bets Are No Solutions

Stocks in this article: WPO

New media loses its new mind
Now, these issues would be just the worries of throwback news nerds -- save for one crucial fact: The brightest lights of the Information Economy have suddenly decided that fixing the news business is the new "new thing."

No less than eBay (EBAY) founder Pierre Omidyar said last week he's set to invest in some sort of undefined investigative news initiative with Glenn Greenwald of Salon and The Guardian fame. Steve Jobs' widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, is backing a new-media brand called Ozy. And let's not forget that Amazon's (AMZN) Jeff Bezos took over The Washington Post (WPO) and Chris Hughes poured some of his Facebook (FB) dollars into The New Republic.

Suddenly the challenges faced by those who do get paid to disseminate news -- that is, the execs speaking here in New York last month -- is critical stuff. Because, at least based on the public information about these new Silicon Valley news brands, none of the stubborn challenges of the 21-century news business seem to be taken seriously by Silicon Valley.

Ozy.com -- which boasts the backing of high-power Valley angel investor Ron Conway and Google (GOOG) Chief Legal Officer David Drummond -- will try to compete in the Information Age news brawl with a brand argument of "The place you go to get a little smarter, a little sooner."

Omidyar described how his new-news enterprise would solve the major challenges of our age to The New York Times' David Carr: "If I engage in that system and actually change the rules of the system, I can make it work a different way," he said.

And Jeff Bezos himself confirmed the general "no idea what we're doing yet" news vibe. "There is no map, and charting a path ahead will not be easy," he wrote in an open letter to Washington Post staffers.

"We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment."

The plantation economy of news
To these tired eyes, all these media execs -- old and new -- are glossing over the real challenge head for news: how our business has become a vast plantation of mostly unpaid news workers.

According to Swedish-based Pingdom, which tracks and optimizes Web performance around the globe, last year blogging services Tumblr and WordPress combined to have 147 million blogs -- probably created by an un- or under-paid person or two. And major media outlets have been shameless about grabbing the fruit of those unpaid millions. It was actually an April Fool's joke back in 2011 when The Huffington Post's unpaid contributors would be awarded "tasty sandwiches" for their efforts.

All of which makes of brutal and sad business reality: Once something costs little or nothing, there's nothing anybody - not even the smartest people in the world -- can do to figure out how to make that thing worth anything.

Meaning, the longer news stays in the business of paying nothing for news, the longer nothing new happens in the business of news.

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.
2 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,802.34 -7.72 -0.04%
S&P 500 2,067.67 +4.17 0.20%
NASDAQ 4,748.9550 +35.9850 0.76%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs