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This week, I Want Media hosted its annual Future of Media panel discussion at New York University, which was held in conjunction with Internet Week New York. This year, digital publishing executives discussed three key topics during the panel: the acquisition of Tumblr by Yahoo!, web video, and original content.Panelists for the Future of Media: 2013 event included HuffPost Live president and co-creator Roy Sekoff, BuzzFeed CEO and founder Jonah Peretti, New York Times CEO Mark Thompson, Salon Media Group CEO and CTO Cindy Jeffers, and Business Insider Editor and CEO Henry Blodgett.On an interesting side note, three of the five panel participants have worked for the Huffington Post in some capacity during their careers (Roy Sekoff, Jonah Peretti, and Cindy Jeffers).
Positive Response to the Yahoo! Acquisition of Tumblr Overall
Overall, the panel members praised Yahoo! and CEO Marissa Mayer for the acquisition of Tumblr.Blodgett referred to the acquisition as "a very smart thing for Yahoo! to do. Yahoo is getting tackled in its own end zone, and time is running out. In that situation, you can either fall on the ball and lose the game, which would be shutting down the company, breaking it up, and sending back the cash, or you can throw the ball down the field and you've got a receiver running down the field who can complete the pass and win the game. That's what Marissa Mayer was hired to do and that's what she's doing. It's a very aggressive move that could work."
HuffPost Live Banks on Web Video
Panel members also agreed that web video is a key component of the future of media.When asked what works in web video, Roy Sekoff of HuffPost Live explained that his brand is "making our big bet on engagement. That's our thing. It's about participation. It's about bringing people into the conversation. It's about using tools like Google Hangouts, Skype, and Facetime to allow people who you normally wouldn't see on television to be part of the conversation, and I think we're trying to redefine what an expert is. It's not just someone sitting in an ivory tower who comes in and tells you statistics, but it's somebody who has skin in the game---somebody who has an experience with the topic that you're talking about. We found that to be incredibly rich and engaging."
The Shift from Search to Social Is Giving Original Content a Second Life
Panel members offered insights into the ongoing discussion of original and rewritten content with Thompson suggesting that each publisher needs to find the sweet spot between keeping original content on your own site to retain traffic versus allowing that content to be quoted, rewritten, and published elsewhere where it can extend your reach.Peretti focused on the shift from Google and search to sharing as a traffic source to your original content. He explained, "In the shift in traffic in the importance of Google to Facebook or from search to social, you've seen original content have a second life now. When you Google search a big news story, often the first result will be a story that's rewritten and has all the keywords in it and is SEO'd to the max. That's because Google is a robot. It doesn't know what the authoritative source is. ... But on Twitter, people want to retweet the authoritative source, so if someone breaks a big news story, even if it's three or four hours old, you'd rather retweet that than the aggregated piece or the rewritten piece from the AP or whatever it is. So I think social is creating an opportunity to invest more in original content."You can view the complete panel in the video below.
Image: Felipe Wiecheteck