Proposed solution to the Death of News Media

The news business lacks network effects. It needs them. The way to get it is either through platform or content. They keep failing on the platform side to clone social networks. On the other they can’t outrun the infinite competitive supply of “news” sources that are lower “quality”. So they are losing share and money.

But what they should do instead is clone Entertainment, a business that does have network effects/competitive advantage/scarcity/loyalty. “Did you see the last episode of X?”

Compare Disney/Marvel/Star Wars health to NYT/CNN health.

The path to this seems obvious — differentiated opinion and differentiated format, or even “different” truth.
– comedy
– infographics
– columnists/hosts

Yes they do all this. But for someone reason they
– don’t brand them sharply enough
– don’t put them in front of the news (page 1?)
– insist on also doing the traditional stuff, and under the same banner as the new stuff (Avengers by Disney?)
– don’t design news content, format and UI for what large groups of people want to spend time
– are thin-skinned about “media watchers” in a way that product or movie people never are about their “visions”
– are hamstrung by mission; the artists have as much “we are mission driven” claptrap as journalists; yet they actually try to make stuff people like.

There are some things I think are neat, like the NYT’s Upshot poll-predictor (ended up disastrously misleading – but a unique product!) or (former) 538 sub-brands; also what was The Daily Show.

Yes, here are obvious things it is weird don’t exist:
– Why doesn’t CNN have a Daily Show clone by now?
– Why isn’t Colbert on at 6pm? Telling jokes but being truthful.
– A weekly Soap-Opera-like drama like Law and Order that does actual Washington characters in fictionalized form on the actual topics of the day
– “Kids React” – do the news without old guys but rather rowdy groups of kids or college students reacting to actual news
– Put ex-politicians on reality shows for prizes, involving disclosure of their inside-Beltway nonsense
– Do more personality political coverage like celebrity news coverage. Do whole shows on Affairs of D.C. or divorces or whatever dirty laundry
– an Awards Show for the best politician? Or a Beauty Pageant/Spelling Bee thing for the best Future Politician

The comedy aspects seem very numerous. The boilerplate dramas too. The tabloid angle on filth and personality seems worthwhile. Isn’t this how the “news” does sports and celebrity? It’s not just facts and figures. Why not the actual news…?

Plunging print ad sales and an explosion of online outlets spreading inaccurate information threaten to diminish, and in some cases extinguish, the impact of traditional media companies.