Jeff Jarvis is the founder of and key contributor to Buzzmachine.com, a blog focused on the technology, issues and business of media. He is also director of the interactive journalism program at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism, and consults for The New York Times Company at About.com.
The former TV critic and glossy-magazine editor talked to CNBC’s Michelle Caruso-Cabrera about digital media, television and the tumultuous newspaper business.
Jarvis described a “post-scarcity economy” evolving for news and data. He jokes that “it’s heretical for me to say this,” but “there’s an [economic] inefficiency in the news business.” He offers a personal anecdote to prove his point: “I taped something with [CBS News anchor] Katie Couric, and it took seven people to get me onto video.” But at his home, “I took the exact same script” and recorded a similar segment “all by myself with my [Apple Computer] Mac.”
The media maven mused on why tycoons such as Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, former CEO of American International Group, would bid on present-day newspapers. “Ego. A chance to have a bully pulpit,” Jarvis opined, adding such acquirers might only wish to “buy [a paper] to milk the cash out of it.” After all, Jarvis points out that print publishers including Knight Ridder – whose assets were bought by McClatchy Co. – and Tribune Co. were “torn apart by the markets.”
He notes that early starters in Web news once had a clear field, but no more. Jarvis specifies financial-news site wsj.com as having enjoyed an easy childhood, but now “there’s cnbc.com, lots of other competitors out there.”