In a period of just 3 months, the two top media technology writers – maybe the top two – have left their employers. In October 2013, David Pogue left the NYTimes to work at Yahoo. Then, at the end of December 2013, Walt Mossberg left the WSJ to start an independent company called Re/Code.
Despite the decimation of old-line newspapers in the last decade, both the NYTimes, having gone through its crisis and effective purchase by Carlos Slim, and the WSJ appear to be holding it together reasonably well in the digital age. And in that digital age, both Pogue and Mossberg were leading lights, benefiting from the media companies’ large distribution media platform and their operating budgets, and in turn making them important both to the technology sector who used them to publish information, and the larger world who used them as a bridge to the digital world they tried hard to understand.
And yet, after years, in a short time span, both are leaving the larger media platforms behind.
Both Mossberg and Pogue are smart, and understand the worlds of technology and publishing. Both understand something about the environment in which they operate. Even successful generic media platforms like the NYTimes and WSJ are becoming less relevant to industry-specific reporting. Top reporters like Mossberg and Pogue, with their own brand and following, no longer need a larger house in which to publish their works.
Is this a warning sign about large-scale media, even survivors like the NYTimes and WSJ? Not necessarily. They still have a place as an aggregator of news, as well as investigative and in-depth reporting. However, they are less likely to own the actual reportage around fast-moving sectors, and are more likely to resell it, as they already do with Reuters and AP.
Call it the Pogue-Mossberg Media Slam, or PMMS: when you grow your brand in a large company, until you can are worth more without them.