Blog Post

Can Yahoo Take on Traditional News Media? [VIDEO & INFOGRAPHIC]

Yahoo recently announced their latest addition to their team, and it surprised everyone. Katie Couric will now be Yahoo's Global Anchor. Yahoo's seemingly high priority and investment in news is not one many expected would be a part of Marissa Mayer's strategy, but it isn't completely outrageous. People are increasingly using the internet to find their news, and Yahoo has always been a great aggregator of content, including breaking news. Yahoo has invested a lot of time in optimizing their sites for mobile, which makes sense with the numbers coming out on mobile browsing and discovery. Watch today's Daily Brown Bag to learn more about Yahoo's latest hire, Katie Couric, and what it means for their future.


Hello, and welcome to the Daily Brown Bag. Today, we’re going to be talking about whether or not Yahoo can take on traditional news media. I’m Chad Hill, and I’m joined by Adam Stetzer.

Yeah, good morning, Chad. Welcome, everybody, to the Brown Bag. I think this is a fascinating topic here, Chad. Yahoo has been struggling behind Google for a number of years in search and ad revenue, so they’re making a pretty big news here. The news today, Chad, is that Melissa Mayer of Yahoo! has announced just yesterday that it has hired Katie Couric to be their global anchor. Obviously, Katie Couric is a well-known TV personality from the news, the Today Show, and various anchor desks. So, what’s Yahoo doing pulling in a personality such as this?

Well, this is part of their goal to usher in what they call a new chapter of digital journalism. I think this whole chapter is fascinating. We’ve talked about it quite a bit in some of the things we’ve covered in the last few months, notably, the Washington Post being purchased by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. But, traditional media has been losing out to new digital marketers for quite a while, so Yahoo! is obviously making a big bet, here. They’re hoping to leverage the current audience they have and a lot of partnerships they’ve built, because they are a very popular destination on the internet, to try and bring in this big personality and go after more viewers. Here are some stats that sort of back up, Chad, why they think this play is going to work.

According to Pew, half of Americans now cite the internet as their main source for national and international news, which is pretty astounding when you think about where things were 10 or 15 years ago. Sixty-four percent of tablet owners and 62% of smartphone owners read the news on their devices, so the distribution has obviously shifted pretty dramatically. Thirty- one percent of tablet owners said that they’ve spent more time reading the news since they got their tablets, so this is kind of cool, too. The technology is not only responding to a need, but once you get a device with a different form factor, it’s actually changing your behavior, which is reinforcing its use. So, it’s not likely that these numbers are going to change any time soon. We’ve talked about this one before, Chad. In the 2012 presidential election, almost half of Americans, 47%, used the internet as their main campaign news source, and most interestingly, on election night, 27%, almost a third of Americans, dual-screened, almost simultaneously watching debates and coverage on the screen and having the internet on some kind of device in their laps at the same time. So, a big, bold move by Yahoo. What’s your thought on whether they’ll turn the corner and really do something big here?

Yeah, well as you said, Yahoo is one of those brands that’s been through some tumultuous years here, and they’ve got Melissa Mayer at the helm and are clearly starting to execute on a strategy that she’s put into place. This is a very interesting one, because Couric is just the most recent one, but there have been some other very big names who have recently announced that they’re, in this case, leaving the New York Times to go over to Yahoo. We had Matt Bai who was the chief political correspondent for New York Times Magazine, David Pogue who has been at the Times forever as their technology columnist and does a great job of doing video and text hybrid content, and then Megan Liberman who is the New York Times deputy editor. So, Yahoo is clearly making a big investment here. In fact, they want to be a primary news provider, and Rob Barrett, their Vice President of News and Finance said about Couric that this is symbolic of their ambition to be a primary news brand, to be the next news brand, and to work with someone who has been one of the best traditional journalists in the ability to transcend media and really connect with audiences.

So, clearly, Yahoo is trying to take the audience that they have, so their audience in the last few months. We’ve announced in our Weekly HubFeed that Yahoo has been at the top in terms of a cross-aired network of sites having the largest audience, and they’re trying to keep that audience on their site, provide new and different kinds of content, in this case news, and this is clearly their play to re-invigorate themselves because the more they can get that audience to stay on the websites and engage with their content, they’re pretty sure that the ad dollars will follow, and I’m sure they will. So, we always are looking and rooting for companies to compete and provide more diversified places for people to get information. We talk a lot about Google and Facebook, but it certainly would be great to see Yahoo with a resurgence here, and this is a really interesting path they’re taking.

Yeah, I agree. I think this whole transformation is playing out in slow motion as big shifts do and as the technology evolves and the channels evolve. We’ll continue to watch this and see how the stats support success, but I think it’s a very interesting move. We’ll continue to cover it, and that’s our Brown Bag for today. We want to hear your thoughts and comments on where you’re consuming news and on whether you think Yahoo is making the right bet here. We hope to see you back tomorrow! For more videos like this, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Comments (5)

  • Jesse Reply

    Anyone could take on the traditional news media if they did it online and offered a truly unbiased (either way) source.

    11/27/13 at 03:25 PM
  • Bill F Reply

    A truly unbiased source, or an openly biased one -- without the environment of mainstream media regulation, people can read and watch what they want without it being an imposition on others. Some people will want the center, some people will want various degrees of either slant.

    11/27/13 at 05:12 PM
  • Leanne Reply

    I think that's a little optimistic. Personally, I would trust familiar, respected names (like The New York Times, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, etc.) before trusting Yahoo.

    I might read captivating headlines on Yahoo if they show up on social media, but I wouldn't cite them as a source or follow them on Twitter.

    11/27/13 at 05:46 PM
  • Bill F Reply

    I wouldn't be surprised if their role as an aggregator will continue. Why can't there be a divide between content creators and content presenters, if they have the best way to present the news from a variety of sources? This is already what Google and Yahoo news do, and both are transparent about their sources (which often seem to include most or nearly all mainstream media). It's more the reporters on scene and the writers in the newsroom, not the face behind the camera, that legitimizes or discredits the news.

    11/27/13 at 05:53 PM
  • Matt Reply

    i get my news almost exclusively on the web.

    12/05/13 at 10:38 PM

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