Jill, I’m confused why distributed publishing changes the newsroom culture. I’ll admit naiveté, having never worked in a newsroom. But many of your points, I think, are really about brand and ownership rather than about distribution. Brand and ownership (i.e., responsibility/credit) for a story doesn’t necessarily change in a distributed model — at least not fundamentally.
A good analogy might be how the TV world works. If you consume an HBO show on the standalone HBO NOW app, are you more aware that it’s HBO than you are if you watch it via Apple TV or Comcast? The economics for HBO might be different (I don’t know), but the consumer experience and blame/credit for who’s responsible doesn’t.
Will anyone notice that Buzzfeed has spent months investigating the Texas prison system and indigent defendants if the story is mostly consumed on social media[?]
Depends on what “consumed on social media” means. I’m sure half the people don’t notice today what publication is responsible for a story they read on the web when they get their via social media (or Google). I’m also sure if the article loads from the platform instead of buzzfeed.com — and it still has the Buzzfeed logo — half the people will still not realize it (but not many more).
Don’t get me wrong. It’s clearly a better world for publishers if people are coming directly to their sites and apps. Brand recognition is certainly higher. The ability to have a stronger say on what gets attention, promote additional stories, and not be vulnerable to the economics or other fundamentals changing are non-trivial. However, if that ship has largely sailed, the alternative is not necessarily terrible for the NY Times’s of the world — just like it’s not terrible today for the HBO’s of the world. (We’ll see about everyone else.)