Social Media Meets News

I was in LA for the PaidContent EconSM show yesterday and I’ve written up some general observations at SEL. I don’t go into detail there on the newspaper/news industry panel, “Social Media Meets News,” which was one of the most interesting to me.

Here’s the PaidContent write up of that panel, which featured Vivian Schiller (New York Times), Rich Skrenta (Topix), Ken Stern (NPR), Kara Swisher (Wall Street Journal) and Tad Smith (Reed Business). And here are some selected excerpts and observations:

During the session, Wall Street Journal writer Kara Swisher let out many colorful zingers, including:

  • “Google is a parasite on the system, but a helpful parasite.”
  • “Google is in its Neanderthal stages.”
  • “I had an argument with the 12 year old who runs Google News”

Swisher said these things as qualified jokes. She got into a debate with Vivian Schiller of the New York Times about the state of online newspaper revenues when asked if they had slowed and whether growth had stalled. Swisher agreed that growth had slowed. While Schiller argued that online newspaper growth was very strong.

Swisher also asserted that the mood in the newsroom was “terrible” in response to moderator Tad Smith’s question about the “Zeitgeist in the newsroom.” Schiller and NPR’s Ken Stern were more upbeat about morale.

Swisher and Schiller both agreed that great content would differentiate their publications and enable them to remain vital and profitable. According to Schiller, “The more noise [in the marketplace], the more need for quality journalism.” Schiller and Swisher emphasized, to that end, the power and importance of trusted brands.

Skrenta pierced some of this cheerful discussion by pointing out the difficult situation that confronts newspapers below the very top tier. “The top will survive but local newspapers are under tremendous pressure.”


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