This year will always be year of the London Olympics and the presidential election, but so much happened over the last 12 months that has shaped the digital media landscape that we might have forgotten that all this stuff happened this year if it wasn’t for helpful year-end round-ups like this one.
Here are a few big reasons why:
The Daily Folds
The newsweekly journalism business looked longingly at The Daily as a possible savior with a new business model that could help the business convince readers to pay for content if that content was delivered as an app on a tablet.
It turns out that owning a $500 tablet was too great a barrier for the business model to work. Oh, well. That didn’t keep Rupert Murdoch from dumping an untold sum into the experiment known as The Daily. It was good while it lasted, but it looks like 2013 will be Daily-less. (And that’s not the worse thing that happened to Uncle Rupert this year.)
The Daily Beast Eats Newsweek
The Daily Beast survived the year, but not before it cannibalized Newsweek. The once-great news magazines of the pre-Internet era have now gone the way of the Twinkie.
Besides, how can Tina Brown afford to keep Newsweek in print *AND* pay for the Daily Beast office space in the Frank Gehry building on the west side of Manhattan? Like the old saying goes: if you can’t pay for the space, axe your best asset. (Then, lay off workers.) This won’t end well.
Buzzfeed Grows Up
In 2011, Buzzfeed was for LOLs, WTFs and other forms of Web content deviously designed to be shared, emailed and retweeted into infinity. But then, what!? Buzzfeed hired Ben Smith away from Politico and all of a sudden, Buzzfeed’s 25 million monthly unique visitors were getting something more substantial than the lulz.
Add McCay Coppins, a Mormon reporter to follow the Romney campaign, and Buzzfeed readers were as happy as these 30 dogs who think they’re Christmas trees.
Phone Hacking at News International
The Murdoch-owned tabloids in the U.K. were caught hacking into the voicemails of news-worthy targets back in mid-2011, but the repercussions have continued throughout all of 2012, including arrests, resignations, suicide attempts, and fresh accusations of a cover-up from the top.
The ramifications of the phone-hacking scandal have yet to be fully felt, and will continue as a major media story well into 2013.
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Twitter Repositions as a Media Company
You woke up one day, and suddenly Twitter wasn’t just for Twitpic’ing your brunch; it became your first stop for news, politics and sports scores. Add Twitter’s experiments with native ad integration, and the 140-character company grew up this year.
NY Post Subway Photo
Here’s a simple rule: if you see something happening in NYC, catch it on video with your camera so that later on, everyone else can second-guess your motives, courage and self-worth.
Nevermind that the guy with the phone-camera helped to catch the killer; the one thing everyone wanted to say is that that guy should have put the phone down and used the 22 seconds before the train came to save the victim - because that’s what everyone else would have done who wasn’t there. As for running the photo on the front page of the NY Post, his family remains “traumatized.”
Amazon Destroys the Publishing Industry
The Kindle behemoth continued to grow this year, going from a novelty upstart to thing that makes every publisher and editor sick with dread. From low-priced Kindle Singles to Amazon operating its own publishing company, 2012 was the year that Amazon became a big boy in the publishing world.
Facebook Buys Instagram
It happened back in April, Facebook bought Instagram. Everyone was like, “Wha!?” At first, people thought Facebook made the move just to get at Instagram’s user data, but then everyone realized it was to compete with Pinterest. Oh, and they wanted users' data too.
Rise of the Micro Nets
As Facebook got bigger, social nets got smaller. Micro social nets have been around forever, but as the big social nets continued to buy up the competition, demand exploded for social media users looking for new ways to connect.
The Birth of Medium
The end of 2012 saw the infancy of Medium, a new content publishing platform from the makers of Twitter and Blogger. Even though Medium is still not even V 1.0 yet, there is a lot of hype that the new platform could re-invent how we consume online content with a curated blogging-style platform.