2020 will be a year defined by the change of the old guard in many ways. At the New York Times, the the baton is being handed to the next generation steering the venerable institution.
All humans are driven by insecurities, it’s a question of whether they’re good or bad ones. When you think of the vices and virtues that we balance to pursue our life’s mission, being in the business of news has drawn people for a myriad of ways, good and bad.
Last week in “We let straight men get away with it all the time” (yes, that was the title) I wrote:
"Last century, industrialists were drawn to media for vanity and, well, as “insurance.” Owning the means of production and communications medium allowed them to control what was said of them, and what they could, in turn, say about their competition. Hearst vs Pulitzer, and so on. That side of the history of media is fascinating; I started to cover that in the Turn the Page series on ContextTV.
Those classified-profit-machines posing as local information brochures made the profit printing presses of today’s tech behemoths look take. Media owners would pour profits back into swanky newsrooms as… insurance. Eventually, the Web changed dynamics, Craigslist, Google, yada yada – the so-called ad monopolies of today – i.e. Facebook, Google (whom, ironically, are already seeing rising threats that will erode their profit base) don’t have similar concerns and thus, less interest to maintain those traditional newsrooms. That’s why the future of local news may be rooted and anchored in academia and campuses."
Indeed, the news business isn’t what it used to be, partly because the Web redrew the map, changed the formula and adjusted the power dynamics for good.
My decision to leave finance and pursue a career in media ended up paying off, but I do wonder if the ROI on my years in business would have been higher were I to pursue any other field.
When I started WatchMojo, I would say I can
- “start a business that’ll make money very quickly, but I may be unhappy and it will be hard to recruit talent,” or
- “launch something that may take time to break even, but I will have a great time and ensure I can always recruit anyone I wanted to.”
I chose the latter and it paid off, but a life in media – and news in particular – is really not for everyone and requires those who pursue it to really ask themselves which vices, virtues and insecurities they’re trying to satisfy.