Innovator Marc Andreessen Falls Short with His Warmed-Over Analysis of News Business

By Reinan, John | MinnPost.com, March 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

Innovator Marc Andreessen Falls Short with His Warmed-Over Analysis of News Business


Reinan, John, MinnPost.com


Marc Andreessen did as much as anyone to upend the model of the news business that had held steady for more than a century. Andreessen developed Mosaic, the first widely used Web browser, and went on to create Netscape Navigator. He became wealthy, went into venture capitalism and helped give birth to Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

But after reading his prescriptions for the future of the news business, I wondered how he got so rich.

It's not that his ideas are dumb. They're just not new.

In a lengthy piece, he offers few if any insights that haven't been discussed in depth -- for many years -- by dozens of news business analysts. Jay Rosen, Ken Doctor, Seth Godin, Greg Mitchell, John Temple, John Paton, Rob Curley - all have addressed this topic and offered much of the same analysis.

Even I, someone who writes a column in his spare time from a day job, have repeatedly touched on many of these themes.

And what are they? It's a long piece, but among them:

* Traditional media don't have a monopoly any more and so have lost monopoly pricing power

* The best chance of survival lies with large outlets possessing national (or international) reach, along with small, intensely local outlets

* Media will have to get more money directly from their audiences and rely less on selling advertising

* The "objective" news model must give way to an advocacy model; advocates can often sharpen an issue for the audience

* News media need to be adaptable and experimental

Andreessen then gives a list of media outlets he believes are doing it right, and that's where a real weakness is revealed. He praises organizations like Politico, Vice, Talking Points Memo, Buzzfeed and the New York Times. …

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