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PaidContent: The Big Media Stories of the Moment

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h1I thrive on knowing that this time next year we'll be talking about things we can't imagine now.

Staci D. Kramer, paidContent

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As the editor of paidContent, a site that was curating content before curation was cool, and as a former board member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Staci D. Kramer has been following digital media – and setting the pace for it – in a way that few other media watchers can match. She's also got a front-row seat for tracking how media companies are navigating the new landscape and profiting from the digital revolution.

Seth Godin named her one of the most influential business voices on the Web in the SAY 100 and paidContent was recently acquired by the GigaOM network.

So we decided it might be a good time to catch up with Staci about the media stories she's following, who she thinks are the media innovators to watch, and some of the challenges all media companies face in 2012.

paidContent is one of the longest-running news organizations chronicling the rise of new media. What's the secret to the site's staying power? We write about the equivalent of economic life and death for our readers, many who have been part of the paidContent community since the beginning in 2002. Our staying power is a testament both to their interest and our credibility in the space - as well as our own ability to evolve by adding new writers and coverage areas.

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What media stories are you watching with the most interest right now? It's hard for me to narrow the field down since I either follow or cover so many aspects, but the stories I'm watching include what happens to The Daily, Rupert Murdoch's tablet experiment, and other tablet-only or tablet-centric efforts; the effect of the hacking scandal on Murdoch and News Corp.; the continuing saga of TV Everywhere and its impact; the London 2012 games, especially the end of the tape-delayed Olympics at NBC Sports; changes in windowing for movies and TV; whether John Paton's DigitalFirst strategy is ultimately successful; what Laura Lang does as CEO of Time, Inc.; and the next phase of social media as news distributor.

Metered paywalls – are they here to stay? Why or why not? Meters aren't going to be the only way of handling access but the meter model offers publishers flexibility for access and the best chance to keep traffic levels up. Do the economics work? We haven't seen a lot of hard data yet over a long enough period of time to tell who it will work for and in the case of legacy publishers, whether they can replace the revenue print from print that way.

Is there ever a case for device-specific content? Yes, as long as it's specifically designed for that device and takes full advantage of its potential. But in a multi-device/multi-screen world, content creators should be looking at ways to keep users engaged across platforms.

What are the biggest challenges facing today's new media companies? Overreaching, me-too-ism /jumping on trend bandwagons -- and ignoring the continuing value of, and interest in, legacy media.

What media company innovations are you watching with interest? Who's doing it right and why? This is a very small list out of a much larger group than you would think -- far more people are getting it right every day (or at least trying) than are getting it wrong. R&D is crucial to that. The New York Times R&D led by Michael Zimbalist and the Washington Post Co. experiments led by Vijay Ravindran stand out for me, in part because they come from companies most known for their print publications. The NYT is exploring every conceivable, meaningful way of delivering news and for the first time is being led by someone who actually has worked in digital news production, Jill Abramson. Vijay just hired Rob "cmdrtaco" Malda of Slashdot fame as chief strategist of the WP Labs. I also keep an eye on Sara Ohrvall at Bonnier. I've enjoyed watching SI's Terry McDonnell move into a multi-platform storytelling mode at Time Inc. NPR has baked digital into its DNA now and CNN is constantly stretching its boundaries.

Any surprises you think we'll see in the new media landscape this year? If I could tell you, it wouldn't be a surprise. Seriously, I thrive on knowing that this time next year we'll be talking about things we can't imagine now.

What interesting things should we expect to see next for paidContent now that it's part of the GigaOM family? Our commitment to news and analysis about the economics of content won't change but we are already taking advantage of our new home at GigaOM, which now has more than 20 reporters and editors, to expand and deepen our coverage. We'll also continue to produce paidContent events, starting with our flagship paidContent 2012: At The Crossroads, May 23, in New York. As for more, stay tuned ...

Follow Staci on Twitter @stksdl

[Top image: TV Everywhere]

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