Crappy Content is a Crappy Business

Chris Selland is a Boston-based technology industry analyst & startup executive.  Currently, he is an Expert Advisor for Focus Research and blogs at

Came across this Tweet a few moments ago from my friend Leigh.

content is a crappy business $AOL “@hblodget: There Is Something Fundamentally Wrong With AOL’s Media Business

— Leigh Drogen (@LDrogen) December 17, 2011

I was about to RT or write a snarky reply, but then I got thinking about Christopher Hitchens, especially after reading Christopher Buckley’s brilliant PostScipt piece earlier today.

I also thought back to Michael Arrington’s Why Heather Matters post from yesterday, and about how the site he founded has devolved from posts like these to posts like this.

And I wonder – is content really such a crappy business? Or is crappy content a crappy business? And is being an intermediary for crappy content even worse?

Certainly the content business is a very, very competitive and difficult one, with essentially zero barriers to entry. But yet I know there there are a set of writers and bloggers who I will seek out and read – which has absolutely nothing to do with where they write but because of what they write.

Firms like Huffington Post, Demand Media & Seeking Alpha built businesses based on the idea that the channel mattered more than the content, which seemed to work for a while until the consumers & producers recognized that the model is unsustainable – and that quality isn’t free. And AOL stupidly bought in at the absolute peak.

So Leigh, I believe you overgeneralize (and you also do yourself a disservice because your content is pretty damn good and you’re most definitely on ‘my list’).

The content business continues to shift dramatically, but I personally believe there always is – and always will be – a market for quality content, and ways to monetize it.

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