Why legacy media is thriving

From the NYTs: How the Media Industry Keeps Losing the Future.

I take the opposite view: legacy media has thrived, especially post-Trump, whereas smaller companies are struggling, like Vice Media, which was valued at $4 billion in 2018 and is now worthless. Legacy media is booming due to a fixed supply of established outlets and increased demand, and also the ability to monetize content at scale, such as paywalls. Similar to professional sports teams, it’s not like they are making more of them, yet demand has gone up, hence why sports teams have been such great investments.

Conventional wisdom assumes old, large companies are not as nimble to changing trends compared to small companies. The opposite is true. Despite their size, legacy media companies such as the NYTs, the WSJ, and The Washington Post were among the first to add paywalls and social media sharing features, well before smaller publications caught on. The NYTs paywall, which launched in March 2011, was the among the first for a media company, and now the paywall has become ubiquitous. Smaller publishers are at a disadvantage because they cannot monetize their content as efficiently and effectively compared to legacy publications.

The proliferation on social media of fake news and AI-generated news creates a role or demand for legacy media, as the latter is assumed to be more accurate (this is not to say legacy media is always accurate, but it’s considered more trustworthy). Despite the bias, a NYTs link is less likely to be fake news compared to a lesser-known source.

Legacy media also had success, but also criticism, by taking sides on controversial issues, increasing virality. The NYTs and The Washington Post have covered the new, but controversial, weight loss drugs extensively, for example. The post-Trump era of hyper-politization and polarization has made legacy media companies like NYTs, Washington Post, and The Atlantic more relevant as readers seek their daily ‘orange man bad’ fix.