Three top editors at the independent Russian media group RBC left the company last week, following several investigative pieces that rubbed Kremlin in the wrong places, including one about a problematic oyster farm. Yesterday, the former editor-in-chief Elizaveta Osetinskaya finally hinted that her being forced out was politically motivated, adding another sad note to the dreary fate of Russia’s choking media landscape.
We are, right now, in the midst of a digital media upheaval. What was previously conventional wisdom—that a media company with hopes of turning a profit needs, above all, to achieve scale—is being proven false. The new conventional wisdom is that video will be digital media’s savior, but it is only a matter of time before this is proven false too.
Last Friday, the media industry toasted BuzzFeed for successfully drawing the attention of nearly 800,000 Facebook users to a livestream of two employees wrapping hundreds of rubber bands around a watermelon until the fruit exploded. The gambit capped another quarter of widespread confidence in BuzzFeed’s business model, which sells native advertising against a mix of silly listicles and enterprise reporting published on an ever-increasing number of third-party platforms, with everything heavily underwritten by periodic injections of venture capital.
It’s easy to dismiss today’s National Enquirer story about the alleged secret, highly active extramarital sex life of Ted Cruz, because, hey, it’s just some crappy tabloid that makes up all of its stories, right? And it’s true: They’ve printed a lot of fantasy and nonsense. But on some stories—including some huge ones—the Enquirer has been very right.