Personal media, contrarian journalism provide counterweights to Eastern media’s groupthink
By J.D. Lasica
Online Journalism Review
Less than three years ago, a case could be made that the West — particularly the greater San Francisco Bay Area — had become ground zero of the new media revolution.
New York and its cadre of elite corporate media were latecomers to the Net party and, in the eyes of the digerati, worse than clueless. Irrelevant.
Meanwhile, way out West, Wired magazine and its dazzling digital sibling, HotWired, became the instant bible of the fevered plugged-in crowd — those who got it, who understood that the Internet would change everything. Salon magazine, and then Slate, fashioned ambitious sites that were vibrant, smart and required reading — everything the establishment media was not. The Industry Standard (and, at the end, its terrific Web site) came out of nowhere to become the best publication covering the new economy. Business 2.0 wasn’t far behind. Other Bay Area tech magazines — Upside, Red Herring, InfoWorld, PC World — invested in online staffs operating well-done Web sites.
CNET powered its way to become the premier tech news site. More people were reading Yahoo! News than the top 20 online newspapers combined. TechTV and its companion Web site hoped to bring computer news and how-to advice to the cable masses. eCompany Now scrambled onto the Bay Area scene in early 2000, paying its top writers six figures. Knight Ridder Digital moved its headquarters from Miami to San Jose to get closer to the heart of the action. Startups in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Redmond, Wash. — many of them content sites (MSNBC, Amazon, ThirdAge, BabyCenter, Women.com, Adam.com, LookSmart, ThemeStream) or service journalism sites (eHow, ExpertCity, Sidewalk, CitySearch) — had begun dotting the media landscape like buttercups.