Old media has some tricks up its sleeve, too
Yesterday, I wrote about media startups that are experimenting with new business models that eschew ads, from crowdfunding to micropayments to content agencies. But just as new organizations such as The New Inquiry and Narratively are finding ways to make money beyond the pageview, some more established media outlets are also experimenting with formats and big ideas. It's not all "Snow Fall," people.
This week has been a particularly busy one on the old-dog-new-tricks front. As long as we're in the business of highlighting the best efforts of young startups, we ought to also give some shout-outs to the older guard. So here we go.
Bloomberg Businessweek's documentary on former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Jr.
Yesterday, Businessweek released "Hank: Five Years From the Brink," a feature-length documentary director by Joe Berlinger and distributed by Netflix (see pic above). Businessweek editor Josh Tyrangiel told the New York Times' David Carr that the film was not the first move in a new line of business for the publication. Rather, he saw it as a way to stretch the magazine's credibility into other forms of media. Because the attention economy has become so competitive – thanks to instantly accessible media and constant feeds from social media sources – the film also provided a way Businessweek could stand out from the crowd.
Politico buys Capital New York
In an effort to capture some of the New York market, Politico publisher Roger Allbritton announced on Monday that he was acquiring three-year-old Capital New York, founded by former New York Observer editors Josh Benson and Tom McGeveran. Vowing that "Politico North" will focus on media, politics, culture, and business, Allbritton also said he would make a substantial investment in the digital publication and quadruple its staff. Not that long ago, Politico could have been considered a media startup. Now it's one of the grown-ups.
The Daily News launches an innovation lab
While the New York-based tabloid is essentially jumping on the accelerator bandwagon pioneered by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the New York Times, BBC Worldwide, and Turner, this latest version of the form is notable at least because it double-underlines the trend. There's also money involved. The Daily News' Innovation Lab will invest up to $25,000 of seed money in a convertible note in whichever early-stage digital media or community-focused companies are accepted into the program. Really, these accelerators are just breeding grounds for startups building products that the media companies want to exploit.
Nieman Lab publishes Riptide
Nieman Lab is not exactly old-media, but it comes from a traditional institution, Harvard's Nieman Foundation. This week it published a 15-chapter oral history "Riptide," detailing how the advent of the Internet age almost destroyed the news industry. The report was built on extensive interviews with a large cast of key figures from media and tech over the last three decades, and it was shown off with the latest design ideas (plenty of white space, large font, lots of scrolling), as well as mixing video with straight text.
People are still talking about how big a deal it is that Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post
It has been more than a month since Don Graham announced Jeff Bezos would buy the Washington Post. And the media still aren't tired of talking about it. The Amazon billionaire's new toy suggests old media might just be sexy again – even if doesn't hold obvious financial promise in the meantime.
Image via Bloomberg Businessweek