Content Marketing

Jeff Jarvis & Tim Armstrong On Disrupting Journalism [INTERVIEW EXCERPTS]

Yesterday at TechCrunch Disrupt, Aol CEO Tim Armstrong and journalism-thinker Jeff Jarvis each spoke about the changing tide of content on the web, in front of an audience of roughly 2,100, congregated in what resembled an aircraft hanger at Pier 94 in Manhattan.

“I love the fact that people think content is not a great business,” Armstrong said at the beginning of his interview with TechCrunch’s Big Cheese, Michael Arrington, “because it keeps people out of that business and allows us to only hire people who believe in that business.” He’s excited about the pace at which Aol is building its content empire, and the longer it takes the web to realize that “quality content is the future,” the better for Aol.

Several content-related trends are converging. Armstrong brought up three in context of Aol’s strategy:

Volume of content produced on the web is exploding.

“The top 150 content sites are expanding twice as fast as the internet.” -Armstrong.

Businesses and product creators are publishing content to out-market their competitors.

“Everybody… is using content to differentiate themselves.” -Armstrong

Consumers do more research today and rely on content to make decisions.

“People want contextualized information.” -Armstrong

Jarvis, a professor of entrepreneurial journalism at CUNY, spoke about disruptive trends on the journalism side.

Old paradigms of media’s role in telling us what to think are being shattered due to the number of alternatives to traditionally monopolistic news organizations.

“Transparency is the new objectivity. Objectivity is bullshit.” -Jarvis

The crowd, or everyday Internet users, is taking on the role of reporter, and journalists are now “plucking out the best” of conversations taking place.

“The architecture of journalism is starting to mimic that of the internet, from end to end.” -Jarvis

The journalism industry is moving to a freelance model.

“Journalists need to make their own jobs. That’s how they’re disrupting the industry.” -Jarvis

At Contently, we think these trends are inevitable — especially the freelance takeover and the rising tide of businesses as publishers. One of the biggest upsides to branded publishing is the ability to pay journalists to produce exceptional work, due to brands’ lack of reliance on ad revenue to fuel content campaigns. So long as content creators never fail to disclose their affiliations, and strive to keep quality the number one priority, the future of journalism is looking like a big win for consumers and journalists alike.

Shane Snow, cofounder of, is a writer in New York City and contributor to Mashable, Wired, Fast Company, and Huffington Post.

Image by Flickr Basheer Tome

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