There was a time ten years ago where half the ways we consume news today did not exist. I credit this to the art of adapting. However, some people in the media industry are stubborn and afraid to take risks that can elevate their businesses. I mean, I can’t blame them. Who would want to go against everything they know, for the possibility of being innovative? Of being first? There’s no guarantee in every industry, so to take the leap and SUCCEED takes a lot.
“There might be a 90 percent chance you’ll accelerate the decline if you gamble and a 10 percent chance you might find the new model.”An executive from the Search for a New Business Model Pew Report
I believe Paul Graham, the founder of Y Combinator, understands the process behind new business ideas and problems with his success in investing and creating companies. In an essay, he detailed the importance of working on a problem that you have. He talked about how one of his business ideas was putting art galleries online, but no one wanted it. That’s because he wasn’t in touch with the audience to know what they actually wanted. This is what so many people in the media industry are afraid of. Before there was a BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post, all these legendary news companies continued to do the same old, same old and watched their users and advertising decline. They didn’t want to deviate from something old that worked, even though it was slowly failing, it still worked.
BuzzFeed and Huffington Post, made their own lane doing the simple things, and then developed into household names in the media industry. Before BuzzFeed started reporting on politics, I used their website just to take the funny polls, like, “where you will vacation based off your zodiac sign”, “which member of PLL are you”, “can you pass this super hard Beyoncé quiz”. Now they’ve grown into a multimedia reporting source that caters to their growing audience via social media. The Nieman Report calls BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, online-born sources alike, “classic disruptors”. They start at the bottom, doing things that other overlook as easy journalism and work their way up to compete with legacy companies.
You see the disruptor model through media, not just journalism. For example, on YouTube content creators who just started out posting funny videos of things they come across, now sit and brainstorm comedic content for their channel for money. Another example would be artists who come into the music industry and they start off singing covers just to gain a following. The minute they’re stable enough and have a big enough fan base they start to release their own songs.
In the How to Find Your Big Idea podcast episode, Reid Hoffman says something that I think is really relevant to the changing media industry: “I believe there’s only one way to find your big idea: look for it, look for it, look for it. And then act.”
Social media started out with a simple idea to connect a group of people. Creators of Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook looked and looked for idea similar to theirs and their needs and came up empty. They took the leap and created and started a wave for personal media. Now, all these sites are being used as news aggregators.
Legacy companies didn’t take advantage of the reach until, BuzzFeed, NowThis, AJ+ and others began to take over the platform and change the way we receive news forever.