Are BuzzFeed, Vox and the other digital newcomers really as innovative as we like to think? Michael Massing, continuing his NYRB series on new media, is unconvinced:
When one considers the amount of resources that the sites I’ve mentioned have consumed, the level of attention they’ve received, and the number of people they employ, the results thus far seem dishearteningly modest. That’s especially so when compared with the consistently high-quality material produced by such traditional institutions as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Guardian. These organizations are commonly referred to as “legacy” institutions—a gently derisive term that lumps them in with Blockbuster and Radio Shack as enterprises that, once thriving, were undermined by more innovative startups. When it comes to actual journalistic practice, however, it’s the media startups that in general seem the laggards.