Home Anty-Climax Forget pay-walls, the future of media is hyperdistribution

Forget pay-walls, the future of media is hyperdistribution


In light of the current discussion about newspaper pay-walls, micro-charges and beating a path back to a viable commercial future for news media, progressive digital media thinker Jeff Jarvis recently outlined a media strategy that is antithetical to building walls. He dubbed it “hyperdistribution”.

It’s an interesting read, far more stimulating than the recent torrent of missives by newspaper execs charged with protecting their ever-dwindling stash.

Jarvis points to one particularly interesting example of how media companies can encourage increased distribution and readership for their online content: The embeddable paper.

“Once you embrace hyperdistribution, then you’ll find new and simple ways to get readers to become distributors,” Jarvis writes, referencing a post he wrote a few months ago in which he suggested that we should enable any content to be placed in YouTube-like players that carry brand, advertising and links.

It’s a radical concept for those still wedded to the idea of charging readers directly for straight news. The Associated Press is fast becoming a pariah (and, even worse for a media business, irrelevant) thanks to its curmudgeonly attitude towards digital distribution and its astonishing lack of a suitable business model for the 21st Century. When it sabre-rattled in the direction of bloggers who were quoting and linking to AP wire stories, the bloggers simply boycotted the AP.

However, the embeddable post is actually a really simple concept. We don’t think twice when it comes to embedding video – in fact, it’s a little irritating when video sites don’t provide you with an embed option. So why not news?

Jarvis continues:

“Lo and behold, Silicon Alley Insider just made it possible to embed its stories on this blog or anywhere. In fact, you don’t need to follow that link above; you can read the story below (and I imagine it won’t be long before there’s an ad there, along with the Insider’s branding, links, and data collection).”

[Unfortunately, the embedded post doesn’t seem to be appearing on our site. We’re looking into this, but for now you can click on the below image to see how the embedded article works.]


The future of news is about getting relevant content into the hands of the right audience. It’s a popular misconception that readers traditionally paid for news, but now they won’t because they can get it for free online. Readers never payed for news. Advertisers paid for news. Readers paid a nominal fee to cover the cost of getting the physical item into their hands. The rest of the burden was borne by advertisers wishing to access consumer attention.

As Seth Godin says, the internet has created a surplus of attention, and marketers haven’t figured out what to do with it yet.

Until they do, in partnership with progressive thinkers and entrepreneurs, the traditional news industry will continue to convulse and contract.