What works in today’s web landscape are lean and mean organizations with little or no management bureaucracy—operations where nearly every employee is working on producing actual content. I’m an extreme example—a literal one-man show. A better example is Josh Marshall’s TPM Media, which is hiring political and news reporters. TPM is growing, not shrinking. But my understanding is that nearly everyone who works at TPM is working on editorial content.
Old-school news companies aren’t like that—the editorial staff makes up only a fraction of the total head count at major newspaper and magazine companies. The question these companies should be asking is, “How do we keep reporting and publishing good content?” Instead, though, they’re asking “How do we keep making enough money to support our existing management and advertising divisions?” It’s dinosaurs and mammals.
Increasingly over the last few months, in particular, people have asked me whether I think that blogs are going to kill the MSM. I don't believe that they will, partly because, as many have pointed out, many of us are parasitic on the MSM itself.
However, I do think that the days of highly-paid opinion columnists are numbered—even more so as devices such as the iPhone make it easier to read online whilst on-the-go.
Should you find good blogs, the comment in the blogosphere is just as sharp—and often considerably more informed—than that in the MSM. Furthermore, those opinion-writers are not on a salary of £100,000 plus.
To put it another way, the fact is that Polly Toynbee and her ilk are dead ducks. Or, of course, it will be the businesses that employ Polly and her ilk which die.
Instead, I believe that the MSM companies should slim down their operations considerably—to become, as Gruber describes it, "lean and mean organizations with little or no management bureaucracy"—operations where nearly every employee is working on producing actual content"—and refocus their efforts where they have competitive advantage—in proper, verifiable reporting and news-gathering.
Otherwise, I cannot see how they will survive—no business can lose £200,000 a week forever...