by · November 4, 2014

And The Verge isn’t alone in its new expanded editorial approach. Many other technology sites have found “tech" to be too narrow of a coverage area in a media environment that incentivizes publishers to pursue larger audiences and bigger advertising dollars with wider editorial mandates. A focus on a dedicated niche of gadget enthusiasts just isn’t enough.

via The Verge goes beyond gadgets for mass appeal – Digiday.

I’m conflicted by this approach, which is on the one hand obviously rational if one wishes to survive in this Brave New World of competition for attention and dwindling advertising dollars (as brands increasingly simply become their own publishers, leveraging earned media instead of paid). On the other hand, it plays into the self-fulfilling agenda of the marketing hype beast, and places a dubious bet on the idea that any site without a core narrative and focus can simply amass new orders of magnitude scale by appealing to… well, everyone. About everything.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m an incorrigible generalist myself. And to Nilay’s point, I love the way Rolling Stone incorporates a broad perspective and thoughtful curation of culture more widely beyond straight up music; my favorite articles in that magazine each month are typically the long-form political reads. I’m also heavily guilty of pursuing this strategy as part of various projects, brands, and jobs I’ve worked — so full-on #glasshouses disclosure in effect.

But all that leaves me feeling like a shallow husk of a human being, simply fine-tuning the parameters of an addictive click cycle designed to fleece potential audience of their attention and valuable time. In exchange for… what exactly? Two minutes worth of harmless mirth over the day’s funniest internet GIFs? Our slightly-different take on the day’s big news that every other brand trying to scale to the level of Everyone is guaranteed to cover? Fickle hordes of StumbleUpon, reddit, or other trend platform traffic that will drag down the average time spent and pages per visit overall?

There’s got to be a better way. And there are signs of lots of potential better ways on the horizon — trouble is, huge hulking media conglomerates at the very worst kinds of companies to entrust with the sort of innovation and fresh, humble, empathetic out of the box thinking required to give the content industry (for lack of a better term… “content" is honestly a terrible word, evocative of all the magic and subtlety of a lorem ipsum wireframe container) some diversity of approach and new business models to tinker with. At the other end of the scale, you have professional journalists and editorial strategists tiring of the eyeball game but loathe to leave the comforts of a steady paycheck (or contract flow) to launch a risky, speculative venture into the unknown void of how to make money in an eventual post-advertising world where literally everyone is a publisher. Literally everyone.

Still, there are notable experiments out there to champion like Wirecutter, going after the affiliate revenue piece more aggressively than any other CE-oriented site I’ve yet seen (and doing it well — i literally just bought a new router based on their recommendation last night). I think we’ll see more new twists on affiliates & deals, paid content, VIP/subscription, events, social commerce, content marketing, mobile monetization, local monetization, real-time media, crowdfunding, licensing, and digital agency models emerging on the landscape in the next few years — and hopefully a few entirely new ideas we haven’t yet seen. I believe the future of content is still bright — it just needs to grow its way out of lorem ipsum and figure out how to reinvent itself in a world teeming with potential audience to reach and educate, enlighten, entertain, and beyond.