The Degeneration of Premium Media Brands

There are at least 100,000 professional commentators on the topic of “digital media content,” so please allow me this one indulgence. Also, since I contribute content to one online blog, I realize that I may be one small part of the problem I’m about to discuss, but I can assure you that the example I’ll point you to will be one million times worse than any offense I’ve committed in digital media.

Today, I received a Google Alert that I had been mentioned in The New York Times. Yes!

I wondered what “section” I’d made it into. Maybe the business section? Or the technology blog? And, I started thinking about the “sections” in the NYT and in The Economist. In the days of print media, space was finite. If you wanted to make it into the Times, you had to meet the cut. It was the news that’s fit to print. The Economist looks the same, week in, week out. In the transition to digital, these properties have leveraged their brand to create and abuse infinite space because, well, space on the Web is virtually free. I wonder how many sections the NYT has now. The Economist has guest bloggers, who are in fact named in the byline!

I say all of this because, guess where I ended up in the NYT? On this guy’s clown blog,”You’re the Boss.” Do me a favor and read this garbage. It is *the single worst* piece of garbage I’ve ever read on the NYT. Seriously. Read this article. It is not written by a NYT writer. This post is like the bastard lovechild of a one-night stand between and Summify. I mean, who even sanctioned this at the Times, or worse, let this through the editing process? I give the author credit for having the most mentions of random people and articles in the history of a blog post. It also has zero comments.

Who is this author? I have no idea, but his trick worked and I checked out his profile and — shocker — turns out he also writes at Forbes and The Huffington Post, two places that survive largely because of their clever recruitment of people who want to say they write columns at Forbes and HuffPo. Dig a bit deeper and this guy has parlayed it all into countless TV spots on FOX, CNN, and you name it. And, good for him. He has mastered the multimedia-parlay game of checkers.

Ultimately, he’s doing his own thing and that’s cool. No big deal, and I don’t blame it. You gotta do what you gotta do. But it says something if the NYT is letting this type of garbage onto its site, unchecked. The NYT has the largest global brand for news and information, period.

Instead of using the Web to create infinite sections for posts like these, a premium brand like the NYT should be limiting what they publish and curate so that readers only associate their brand with the highest quality and most relevant content, news, opinions, and other types of reporting. What makes media brands great and trustworthy are limiting sections, framing issues for readers, and having a process that filters for the best information. Finally, lest you think I’m just bitter I wasn’t really mentioned in the Times, I actually think I should never be mentioned in the Times, so that as soon as I got this alert, it was evident to me that it wasn’t going to be good.