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Do digital pureplays have core brand strengths?

The digital media rollup dream is dead for the moment — now it’s all about core brand strength

BuzzFeed, Vice, Vox and Bustle Digital Group are sharpening their focus to enhance core strengths.


This roundup from Alex Sherman suggests that the wave of consolidation that swept over digital media is finally breaking. Instead of trying to scale up, Sherman suggests that companies like BuzzFeed and Vox are instead paring back their ambitions to refocus on their ‘core brand strengths’ and differentiate themselves. It’s an interesting thought experiment because what, other than tone of voice, are those strengths?

“‘In the old days of media, with TV networks, if you were down, you could revive yourself with a hit,’ said [CEO of Integrated Media Jonathan] Miller. ‘In the internet age, everything is so easily substitutable. If Vice goes down, the audience just moves on to something else’.”

So what can’t be replicated in the ‘internet age’ (I hate that phrase)? Individual personalities, obviously, which is why some outlets are replicating the creator model. In-depth investigations, certainly – although they take an awful lot of investment. My worry is that some of those digital pureplays will fool themselves into thinking that their brand alone is enough of a ‘core strength’ to suffice.

Report: Practical AI for Local Media

Report: Practical AI for Local Media

Find out how AI can help publishers take care of work that humans can’t so they can use the time saved to creating valuable commentary and analysis.


Never let it be said that Media Voices is behind the curve! Our very own Peter Houston has written this report – due out early next month – all about how local media is taking advantage of AI. Find out how AI can help find the stories in massive datasets, taking care of the busy work to let reporters get back to adding value with commentary and analysis that even the cleverest AI just can’t deliver. You can pre-register for the report here.

NPR cancels 4 podcasts amid major layoffs

NPR cancels 4 podcasts amid major layoffs

NPR moved this week to cut 10% of its staff and stop production of a handful of podcasts, including Invisibilia, Louder Than a Riot and Rough Translation.


NPR is cutting 10% of its staff, in addition to cancelling four of its slate of podcasts including Invisibilia. The plight of non-profits in the media industry is devastating to read about on a regular basis, due to both the sheer relentlessness and the wasted talent as a result, no matter how necessary. As NPR chief executive John Lansing said in an interview. “It’s existential.”

California bill would force Big Tech to pay for news content

California bill would force Big Tech to pay for news content

A new measure was introduced in the California State Assembly on Monday that would require companies such as Facebook and Google to pay publishers for news content.


The new bill would direct digital advertising giants to pay news outlets a “journalism usage fee” when they sell advertising alongside news content. Now that’s quite the euphemism! The bill would require publishers to invest 70% of the profits from that fee in journalism jobs, which… I’ll believe it when I see it.

More from Media Voices

Listen again: Medium VP of Content Scott Lamb on the platform’s evolution and vision for the future

Medium’s Scott Lamb on the platform’s evolution and vision for the future

Scott Lamb leads the content and creator relations teams at Medium, so we talked about their famous pivots, and Ev Williams’ departure.


While we’re taking a break, why not listen to some classic episodes? In this episode we hear from Medium’s VP of Content Scott Lamb. Scott leads the content and creator relations teams at the platform, so we talked about Medium’s famous pivots, the importance of putting creators at the core, competing with Substack, and Ev Williams’ departure.

How to turn a journalist into a broadcaster

Journalists are excellent storytellers, but that doesn’t always translate to podcasting. However, many of the skills can be easily built up.


Platforms don’t owe publishers a living, but they do owe them compensation

The Public Interest News Foundation’s Jonathan Heawood explains why the tech giants should be compensating publishers, and which models would work.


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