Prediction: Social Media Will Elevate Top Journalists

Status: Occurred

Prediction: Social media will make the journalist king

top talent will either leave or wield infinite leverage.  It’ll start innocently enough. A few journalists will organize events, self-publish successful books, and get media attention simply because of how viral their work is. Once those activities start earning real money, the digitally savvy will be emboldened. The technophobic will have no choice but to jump in.”

Prediction 1: New media ventures built around star journalists

Start Competing Media Ventures: This is already beginning. The talented team of tech writers at Engadget mysteriously stopped enjoying being in the AOL family. So, Joshua Topolsky and company parlayed their fame and Jimmy Fallon appearances into an instant hit blog called The Verge.  A few years ago, tech luminary Leo Laporte turned his likability and TechTV and radio fame into a multimillion dollar podcast empire.

The Journalist’s Last Laugh, 2011

What Happened 

A Fragile Moment for Big Media, Jul 2015

we’re about to see a huge shift in the layout of big media houses — a shift that we’ve already seen inklings of with the rise of freelance writers and YouTube stars. Little by little, major publishers are losing their power in a world that’s allowing individuals to generate a lot more revenue from their own content — with no middleman.

Entire WSJ tech team, led by Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, Leaves to Found ReCode Media in 2014, then sells to Vox Media (2015)

Launch of John Cook’s The Intercept and Matt Taibbi’s unnamed project as Independent Ventures, Jul 2014

Glenn Greenwald Founds The Intercept, Feb 2014

Ezra Klein Leaves Washington Post to Found Vox, Jan 2014

Milo Yiannopoulos announces $12M in funds for new media company, Apr 2017

YouTube Star Hank Green Will Publish His First Novel Next Year, Sep 2017

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight is here: May the Odds Be Ever in Its Favour 2014


“Silver, who built his reputation first with baseball predictions then with the best US election forecasts in the business, has turned his hand to launching a standalone data journalism website.”

Award-Winning Journalists Launch A Publishing Co-operative Called Deca, Inspired By Magnum 2014

Can Patreon’s Crowdfunding Platform Help Journalists Go Direct? 2014

Joshua Topolsky, Former Verge Editor, Raises Funding for Digital Media Venture 2016

Milo Yiannopoulos Announces $12M in Funds For New Media Company 2017

Others parlayed their social media fame into independent ventures within bigger companies:

Prediction 2: Rise of corporate “journalism”

Corporate Advocacy Corporations love smart people who can attract an audience, enhance their brand, and keep lawyers off of speed dial.  After all, talent is talent. Clear thinkers, visionaries, and good communicators are always in demand.  Well, meet Robert Scoble, the most connected, influential, non-journalist on the digital earth.  Robert became a popular, non-stop tech blogger since leaving Microsoft years ago.  Since then, he has amassed such a rabid following (91,000+ Facebook Fans, including Mark Z. himself) that Rackspace hired him as a roving embassador and discoverer of new technologies.  A job that never existed before, but will from now on.

The Journalist’s Last Laugh, 2011

What Happened?

The slimy rise of the “brand journalist” Sep 2014

It’s part of a larger trend of diluting what the term “journalist” means. Just as “journalism” has devolved into the much broader, more brand-friendly term “content,” a journalist could now mean anything from Woodward and Bernstein to a kid who makes GIFs for BuzzFeed’s social channels.

A 52-year-old tech journalist went to work for a startup. It did not go well., 2016

Then he took a marketing gig with a software startup. It did not go well.

Lyons left the job in late 2014 — he lasted a little more than a year

What’s Next?