What REALLY happened was not that Mashable failed. It's that the entire journalism sector failed. Mashable is just a good mascot and sacrificial lamb because it's actually one of the most well known ones.
I say Mashable is a "mascot" because they represent exactly what's wrong with "journalism" nowadays. Instead of producing what people should read, they have shifted their focus onto:
1. What people will click (Memes, controversial topics, content about other people's misfortune)
2. What advertisers will pay more for (Video)
It's understandable because it's been a while since "content" became commoditized. Now media sites no longer can differentiate themselves with content anymore and they can't figure out how to, so they just do what makes them money in the short term.
This article also inevitably mentions Buzzfeed, which I think is what Mashable would have been if it didn't have to go through all the trial and error. Buzzfeed probably learned a lot from Mashable's mistakes and decided to go all in on "I don't care about quality, I'll give you what you want, just give us ad money".
But those who've been following the media landscape also know that that model's not been working out either (It's a good thing that it's not).
So my take is, they didn't flame out because of all these little reasons. They were just the symptoms. The real reason was because they have lost their soul. It's not only Mashable that flamed out, it's that the entire media industry that is flaming out, and OP's own publication will probably flame out too, if they keep writing crap like this (I personally think all publications that monetize off of someone else's misfortunes deserve to taste their own drug and die off too)
Oh, by the way, this is nothing new, and is definitely not just because of the Internet. If you read up on the history of the media itself, you'll realize this type of pendulum swing between "quality content" vs. "shallow, give people what they want in exchange for revenue" approaches have existed several times already.
Mashable raised $46m and sold for ~$50m. It was a fire sale. TechCrunch sold for ~$30m with the founder owning the majority of the stock.
I was talking from the company valuation point of view.
More importantly, the whole point of my comment has nothing to do with who made how much. It's that everyone lost.
> I was talking from the company valuation point of view
Man, kids nowadays, they don't even read before commenting. And it was only three lines. Was that so hard to read 3 lines right above?
I've seen a lot of "investigative journalism" pieces written by Buzzfeed designed to be controversial. There's a fine line between "let's investigate to let the public know what they really need to know" and "let's investigate to find all the dirty secrets of some successful organization or a person so that the public can publicly shame them and feel good about themselves while doing it".
To be fair, a lot of formerly reputable journalistic sources are doing the same thing, but Buzzfeed is the spiritual leader of this trend.
Which brings back to my main point--it's not a single publication, the entire media industry is rotting and eventually there will come a crash, which is a good thing, since from the ashes will arise quality.
I remember a Hner mentioning once, "why are only conservatives willing to pay for their publications". It's an interesting point, really.
I'm not sure why the trend is to start off with strong good content and then eventually just end up with superficial, low quality garbage.
I think that HBO’s secret has been having revenue directly tied to producing content people want (unlike most other TV channels), which in turn forced them to always have an evergreen source of that content (boxing fights, newly released movies). That stuff is their “Buzzfeed” side that gives them the ability to ride out lean times and come out with their next big thing, like The Sopranos or Game of Thrones (their “Buzzfeed News” side).
If they didn’t have the consistent money makers and a revenue strategy that rewards it, they would long ago have had a business hiccup and been taken apart for spare parts ala most other TV channels.
There are a lot of places trying to emulate HBO now in the prestige content game. What I’m interested to see is if any of them (especially Netflix) can follow the HBO playbook over the next 10-20 years or if they all descend into mediocrity in the pursuit of growth.
And it’s always possible that HBO fails at their own game and gets replaced too.
I so wanted you to end it with...
But... "it's all in the game."
Is this the stage where all of the "shallow" players fall while "quality" players begin to rise? If so, using what model, as advertising, in its current form, is an insidious factor? Will advertising need to change first? How will quality content creators reach people and make a living once the pendulum swings full?
I find it hard to see. During my recent experience at Thanksgiving dinner, memes seem to have reduced some people's thoughts to a base level. I do hold hope as I believe, as you do, this is cyclical, but the stage is vastly different than it was in the past.
At the moment, its very difficult for people to disassociate "brands" of the parent company with the writers.
For example, I've seen John Kasich write for the Washington Post Opinion pages. But most people expect Washington Post to be a liberal outlet.
Moving forward, a journalism outpost needs to recognize what their power is:
1. The ability to collect opinions from people that matter. Celebrities are a safer testbed: she said / he said gossip columns are necessary to develop the techniques and hierarchy of the brand... but such drivel is often times seen as "non-intelligent". The brand needs to disassociate itself from "drivel" yet still allow it.
"Twitter", for all its faults, manages to do this perfectly. No one blames Twitter for specific viewpoints. Other networks (such as Reddit, 4chan, or Facebook even) have accusations of bias levied regularly against them.
2. People attach themselves to Journalists and Editors these days. Not to papers or organizations. People don't respect "The Washington Post" so much as they respect "Robert Costa". Similarly, no one says they trust "Fox News", but a lot of people trust "Chris Wallace". See the difference?
3. This suggests that a Patreon model which champions specific journalists would work out better in this day and age. The journalists need to create personalities so that the readers can feel like they're connected with them more.
It means that moving forward: "Journalists" become personalities who deliver the news. These personalities are collected by a neutral-feeling entity and people are willing to funnel money directly to the personality (see Patreon).
This simply doesn't ring true. What about when David Pogue and Katie Couric went to Yahoo News? Or when Nate Silver left the NYT? Or when Mossberg/Swisher set up Recode? The audience largely didn't follow. People trust brands and institutions, even when they say they don't.
LOL...most conservatives I know consider Kasich to be a liberal ;)
Which means this won't be exactly the same of course, but something will change.
People liking trash content is nothing new. It used to be TV in the old days, but now replaced with the Internet. If you compare the two, the stupid internet memes may actually be "better" than the passive consumption of TV content, since nowadays you're consuming AND creating content, so it's not 100% passive anymore.
That said, human nature won't change, so we will keep consuming shit content no matter what happens. And this is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about organizations that capitalize on this will die off.
Lastly, if you look around it's not so difficult to find "quality" content nowadays. Just go to Youtube and search for whatever niche topic you're interested in learning more about and you'll find at least a few good quality video.
Maybe pay walls work long term, but it is certainly hard to get out of the ground with one. There is no way to become known without publishing on the open. There is a Linux development bulletin that has a mixed model of a pay wall, but anybody with a direct link gets to see the article. I don't think it's viable to start with such model anymore either.
Intuitively, it feels like there is some advertising value that can only be delivered by quality oriented journalists. If that is the case, you will have to detect that niche and run after the advertisers one by one. Since there is practically no quality-oriented journalism out there (and there haven't been for a long time) it is hard to point at any model, or even to discover if that niche in fact exists.
I think this is super-optimistic. I think the result of this stage will be further consolidation, demands for even higher margins due to a lack of competition, and even lower quality content.
DigiDay is read by publishing / media / AdTech executives and generally people trying to build profitable business models around advertising, so Mashable's demise is likely to have been of immediate interest to these people.
The problem was that I think they were always a bit me too in their coverage from the start. Even in their tech news days, they were never quite on top of startup news like TechCrunch. It's not a surprise that they also got lost chasing after BuzzFeed as well.
I used to be daily on that site, now it's more like whenever I randomly see one of their popular posts on Reddit (which is rather rare these days).
"This Is My Next" had more quality articles in its short run than The Verge has had in any given month.
The years went on and then I started to notice the ad technique of displaying lists as a slideshow on multiple "pages". Followed by the modal popups "Sign up to our newsletter" on every visit. Followed by the site simply not functioning on a mobile. I even tweeted about that one,  which incidentally was my last tweet about them (and probably the last time I visited them).
That's where the name came from. Used to visit them a lot in those days.
That's why they failed.
They could have been very successful but I guess wanted to become a unicorn...
I don't know that I believe this. Isn't it standard advice to go with a product that 50% of the market is excited about instead of one that 100% is indifferent about? Aren't Breitbart and Fox News doing very well for themselves alienating the other 50% of the audience?