[N]o one should feel like this is something new and unprecedented.
It’s the same thing that’s been happening to popular media for over a century. When radio was invented, it attracted young entrepreneurs like William Paley (using family money) and Richard Sarnoff (working his way up the ranks at RCA). The burgeoning market for middle-class reading material attracted young entrepreneurs like Henry Luce (magazines), William Randolph Hearst (newspapers), and Simon & Schuster (books). The film industry attracted young entrepreneurs like Walt Disney and Howard Hughes. Cheap four-color printing prompted Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson to start up the company that would later become DC Comics. Car culture produced car magazines. Computers produced computer magazines. Gaming produced gaming magazines. The rise of cable TV brought us CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. When politics collided with the rise of the internet, we got websites like Drudge Report, Talking Points Memo, the Huffington Post, and Politico.
Will Ezra Klein’s new venture succeed? Who knows. But I think it’s safe to say that some of these ventures will succeed, and they will indeed produce a realignment in the political media universe. They already have, after all: Fox News and Politico are probably more influential already than the entire old-guard newspaper industry combined.
But the best quote from the chatter on this comes from John Cassidy. Behold the paradox of Buzzfeed:
BuzzFeed and Upworthy aren’t really news sites: they specialize in listicles, lifestyle posts, funny GIFs, and celebrity stories. When I checked BuzzFeed’s home page on Monday afternoon, one of its featured headlines was “Ron Jeremy Does ‘Wrecking Ball.’ ” Over at Upworthy, there was this offering: “An Actor Who Got Super Famous Overnight Has Some Profound Thoughts on Celebrity Worship.” (Update: In fairness, and in response to some complaints from BuzzFeed writers, I should point out that BuzzFeed also puts out serious journalism, including political reports, dispatches from overseas, and long-form stories. Still, the lists and other lighter fare are what drive a lot of its traffic.)
How many complaints did he get, I wonder, from Buzzfeed readers?