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New publishing models that work, for different reasons

|Includes: New York Times Co. (NYT)

The must-read media article of the day is David Carr's NYT piece on the radical transformation of the Manhattan media scene. Fred Wilson responds:

I believe the move from a velvet rope model to a meritocracy is a good thing and that the new media business we are building in the wake of the old one will be a better media business; leaner, faster, and controlled more by users than media moguls.
Sure, it will be better in those senses. But not in all senses. Carr describes one of the models that appears to be proving itself to be economically viable:
An outfit called Demand Media now tests headlines for reader salience and cranks out thousands of articles and videos daily that it pays about $20 apiece for.
It looks like the new AOL under Tim Armstrong will move toward the Demand Media model as well, assigning and churning out articles only when an algorithm tells them to. This is content that simply can't be unprofitable - acceptable margins are built into the production framework. Sure, it's 'leaner and faster' - but there's something I find deeply troubling about this sort of editorial structure and the experience of reading its output, given its origins.

The other model that works in this economy, as Carr recognizes, is the niche or vertical market publisher with an emphasis on quality and expert insight from actual participants in the field and/or truly talented journalists working a beat - think TechCrunch, Seeking Alpha and, at far greater scale than these two outlets, the NYT of the future:
Certain stalwart brands will survive and even thrive because of a new scarcity of quality content for niche audiences that demand more than generic information. The chip that was implanted in me when I arrived at this newspaper — you might call it New York Times Exceptionalism — leads me to conclude that this organization will be one of those, but the insurgency continues apace.
Are we headed to a new media reality with these two viable economic models going head to head - the machines against the brains, the algo-assigned blogger vs. the intellectual spark driven sector expert? Can one media outlet incorporate both - or does the foundation of trust in editorial process preclude any use of popularity data outside of broad considerations, placement and SEO? Will the inherent value of the niche audience's attention find revenue streams that have no clear (ad-driven) input at this time?

I see Vadim Lavrusik at Poynter had a recent piece on this, where Jay Rosen has the best line, buried at the very end :/
"If people want to be informed by news providers they trust, the Demand Media way cannot be the way," Rosen said. "Neither the gods of click rates nor the priests of news should guide us."