Those not busy being born are busy dying

busy being born This is one of my favorite quotes of all-time by my favorite artist of all-time, Bob Dylan.

As someone who is focused on media full time, I am routinely blown away by the battles of old media vs. new media. As a newcomer to this sector, after having run my PR firm for 25 years, at first I gave the old guard a fighting chance because I figured they know a lot more than me. I am just a tiny, inconsequential new media guy trying to get someone to pay attention to my site. They were the media GIANTS! I was a pimple on somebody’s ass!

But, along the way during the past few years, I’ve noticed it’s hard to miss a story from BuzzFeedVice, Business Insider or in my world of online real estate news, CurbedCommercial Observer and The Real Deal.  Some sites, like the Daily News, really seem to get it. Others, like USA Today, don’t.  And, of course, there are the Twitter and Facebook giants, which you could argue are the biggest media sites of them all and they don’t even produce ANY CONTENT! You can throw in LinkedIn as well, as a pure platform that networks people and their news.

These days, it’s even hard to distinguish what is actually a media company. How much original content do they produce and how much do they aggregate from others? Virtually every site I know uses content from other sites, in one form or another.

Back to my world of real estate news: The sites that are distinguished as THE destination are the ones that don’t see the storm clouds right above their proverbial heads. Those who consume news, whether they are consumers or business professionals, just don’t want to have to work for it. Meaning, if they are being forced to visit several sites for the latest news, they will eventually stop visiting! That’s why aggregators like Pulse, Circa and, of course, Flipboard have done so well.

The two articles below draw a great distinction between old thinking and new.

https://gigaom.com/2014/09/26/a-look-inside-the-rapidly-expanding-world-of-new-yorks-new-media-stars/ 

http://techcrunch.com/2014/09/30/reddit-scoops-up-50m-series-b-from-sam-altman-a16z-sequoia-at-500m-valuation/

In my world of real estate media, it’s been an amazing personal journey for me during the past few years. I have met with some enormous media companies that have but a handful of people (half my age, just sayin’) left in a newsroom to cover an entire industry across the country and they are thinking everything’s great and the sun is shining every day. I have met with the private equity shops which own some of these media properties and basically begged me to take the property off their hands. I have met with other sites which think the idea of offering content from others is insane. And, I have met with people like Stephen Searer of officesnapshots.com, who is a one-man operation and crushing it. Crushing it -- meaning he has 6 times the monthly page views of the largest national real estate site and it is JUST HIM! Or, check out InHabitat and see what an amazing job it has done covering the sustainability sector.

So, the big question is what will become of old guard in traditional news? Will The New York Times keep spiraling downwards? Will USA Today survive? When sites like Vice are raising so much money and crushing it, I don't think it's a pretty picture.

And what's the future of trade media then? When a site such as officesnapshots.com can have among the largest monthly page views in the sector with virtually no overhead, what’s the future of big national news sites with traditional strategy and burdensome cost structures?

Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to be a pretty picture either.