Online education

“Traffic” and what the rise and fall of BuzzFeed and Gawker tell us about the digital future of universities

Traffic: Genius, Rivalry, and Delusion in a Billion Dollar Viral Race by Ben Smith

Issued in May 2023

The digital news and online education ecosystems have evolved over similar timelines. While journalism has moved from print to digital over the last few years, the only area that has grown (nationally) since secondary school has been online learning.

I read a new book by Ben Smith. Traffic: Genius, Rivalry, and Delusion in a Billion Dollar Viral Race, through the recognition of the parallel digital trajectories of journalism and education.reading traffic jamI repeatedly answered the question of what is the rise and fall. buzzfeed, huff post and Gawker It might tell us about the possible future of higher education.

traffic jam I don’t understand any of the interconnected stories about online news. I vaguely noticed buzzfeed, Gawker And its founders, Jonah Peretti and Nick Denton, weren’t part of my information diet either.

If you’re on Facebook (I’m not) you probably know. buzzfeed For that listicle and vote.News junkies were definitely consumers of the following information buzzfeedjournalism achievements – This online news organization once employed hundreds of world-class journalists and won a Pulitzer that same month traffic jam published, buzzfeed He announced that he would stop reporting. Gawker The lawsuit linked to the site that published Hulk Hogan’s sex tapes, which was effectively murdered several years ago following a $140 million defamation judgment, involved billionaire Peter. It was secretly funded by Thiel.

All these stories are expertly told by Ben Smith, a man well suited to place the digital news narrative in its broader cultural and business context.where did smith come from Politico to start buzzfeed newsto leave the company in 2020 to become a media columnist new york times. (He retired in 2022 to co-found an online news site. semaphore. )

Roughly summarized, buzzfeed/Gawker The story is that free online advertising and funded news lost and paid subscription-based online news won. buzzfeed news digital manipulation of does not work, new york times and Washington Post The right mix of open content and paid (subscription-only) content made it successful.

Another way to look at digital news stories is that platforms relying on user-generated content are becoming mainstream. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube can make a ton of money because it costs so little to create content, yet their scale allows them to create data that enables targeted advertising.

Some thoughts on the digital news story told at traffic jam, which may be related to higher education. Share these thoughts as a bulleted list in typical digital news fashion.

  • Whether scale is a viable business model for online certificates and other non-traditional credentials is unclear. In the same way that the world of online news has failed to convert high-profile traffic (traffic) into sufficient revenue to support journalists and journalism, low-cost, discredited online credentials have failed to educate It may never generate enough money to support individuals and universities.
  • Universities should not assume that educational platform providers are always a necessary part of their business model. buzzfeed Facebook believed they needed them for their content, and the site built a business on social sharing of content. When Facebook deprioritized website links for user-generated content, buzzfeedof advertising revenue has dried up. Can you imagine educational platform companies like Coursera and edX creating their own educational content (courses/degrees) or partnering with companies rather than universities to develop and brand those educational products?
  • new york timesThe path to economic viability and cultural impact required the integration of digital journalism into the core of the press operation. Initially, times Separated the digital from the paper news business. The business has become more financially resilient because times The digital platform was just one part of the reporting, and the digital team was integrated with the rest of the reporting and reporting structure.

The conferences I want to attend and the books I want to read bring together academics and journalists to discuss our shared digital future.

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