Can Silicon Valley Save Journalism?

Journalism is dead. Long live journalism.

In August, 2013, the Washington Post made waves when it announced its sale to Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO of Amazon. The purchase, coming at a time of historically low print circulation, led Daily Show personality John Oliver to quip, “There are now more people buying newspapers than there are people buying newspapers.”

Bezos sees things differently, foretelling a “golden era” at the WaPo, where he intends to introduce a new, startup-inspired culture of risk-taking and experimentation.

In 2012, another old media property fell into the arms of a Valley darling. This time, Chris Hughes, the Facebook co-founder who led President Obama’s online organizing efforts in 2008, purchased The New Republic, an influential magazine reaching progressive audiences in politics and culture.

Hughes, who now serves as Editor-in-Chief, seeks to expand the publication’s digital footprint — particularly on next-generation tablets and e-readers — while preserving the high-quality journalism for which they’re known. In the eighteen months since the acquisition, New Republic print circulation is up by 20% and web traffic has tripled, following a doubling of staff and an expansion into a New York Office, branching out from the company’s traditional Washington, D.C. headquarters.

Now, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar is jumping into the journalism ring, too. Omidyar’s new media venture, First Look Media, “seeks to reimagine journalism for the digital age, combining the promise of technological innovation with the power of fearless reporting.”

Since launching less than a week ago, the venture’s first in-house publication, The Intercept, stars former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, whose series of articles about the NSA, based on documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, ignited a fierce and ongoing debate about the limits of government surveillance.

With founders now donning the mantle of Editor-in-Chief (as Hughes has done), it’s no wonder that a reverse migration is happening, too. Consider Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, the magnetic duo formerly behind AllThingsD, the flagship digital publication of the Wall Street Journal. Their new venture, Re/code, places them in competition with other tech-focused news upstarts, including PandoDaily and TheVerge.

Even Bill Keller, former Executive Editor of the New York Times, is joining a new venture after a 30-year career at the so-called paper of record. His new role will make him Editor in Chief of The Marshall Project, a newly-formed nonprofit that raises critical awareness about the American criminal justice system, which, in Keller’s words, “is bizarrely horrible and weirdly tolerated.

Despite fears of an eroding press, journalism bustles with activity and innovation. New outlets are springing up regularly, while those in the old establishment await a new, experimental culture inspired by a surge of founder-driven acquisitions. The future of the media may be brighter than we once imagined.

NoThingsD: Tech Blog Severs Ties with Wall Street Journal. What’s Next?

Journalites no longer.

Journalites no longer.

As reported by Fortune, the influential team behind tech blog AllThingsD — chiefly, Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg — is severing ties with parent company Dow Jones, owner of the Wall Street Journal, at the end of the year. In addition, Mossberg will cease publishing his column in the newspaper, ending a 20-year tenure at the publication.

One can only speculate about the internal politics that led to the fallout. That said, the announcement leaves the fate of the brand, and the team behind it, in jeopardy, partiularly since Dow Jones will retain the rights to the “AllThingsD” monicker, as Swisher and Mossberg reportedly seek outside capital for what may be a new media venture.

Three predictions on what will happen:

1) Dow Jones will either nominate new leaders from within its organization to run the site, or, more likely, will bring in a well-known outside duo from the blogosphere to take over. It’s difficult to imagine a more coveted position for a tech journalist, but at the same time, when one considers the deep associations between the brand and the two leaders behind it, it’s unclear whether such a strategy would work.

2) Swisher and Mossberg will launch a new tech-focused media site. While traditional, “dead tree” journalism continues to stagnate (as John Oliver quips, citing the recent acquisition of the Washington Post by Jeff Bezos during a widespread decline in print circulation, “there are more people buying newspapers than there are people buying newspapers.”), digital media focused on technology, has a proven history of receiving institutional backing — PandoDaily, TechCrunch, GigaOM, and BostInno, among others, stand among the funded.

3) Other tech writers follow suit. A number of the best tech journalists still work for traditional media outlets — Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic, for instance — but this needn’t be the case. If the team behind AllThingsD can successfully spin out of their parent company, I wouldn’t be surprised if they started a trend.

For additional coverage, see Matthew Ingram’s coverage on GigaOM.