A few weeks ago, Madhulika Sikka traded her position as NPR News executive editor for the equivalent at Mic, a digital media company aimed at millennials.
Sikka’s move reflects a growing pattern. As New Media executives help Old Media adapt to the digital world, many who made their names in Old Media are bringing their skills to digital platforms.
Old Media companies have recognized that the future is in digital technology, and the most successful brands are realigning themselves with that goal in mind. For example, Conde Nast recently hired BuzzFeed data science director Ky Harlin and also launched TheScene.com, a digital video storytelling network. Similarly, The New York Times hired ex-Huffington Post executive Alex McCallum to lead audience engagement efforts last year.
At the same time, New Media companies have realized that content is key. Some of the same New Media brands whose executives have made the move to Old Media have themselves hired Old Media executives to improve the quality of their content. After The New York Times hired The Huffington Post’s McCallum, The Huffington Post brought on The New York Times senior editor Samantha Storey. Vice hired Richard Beckman, formerly of Conde Nast, as its Chief Revenue Officer. BuzzFeed recruited prestigious journalists to its ranks, including Pulitzer Prize-winner Mark Schoofs and former Guardian senior editor Janine Gibson.
L2’s Intelligence Report: Media Winners & Losers – released yesterday – illuminates this changing landscape in detail. Yet the study reveals that both Old and New media companies may be overlooking an important fact. While content has become increasingly important, the largest and fastest-growing media brands – Google and Facebook – are not content producers. Other growing companies, like Snapchat and WhatsApp, have followed the same “parasite” model. Content might be king, but as the vast success of Google and Facebook proves, creating a platform can be more profitable than creating content.