House of Strauss
House of Strauss
HoS: Ben Smith
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HoS: Ben Smith

Semafor founder and author of Traffic talks about the old Internet media era
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A benefit of my job is that I can read a book, enjoy it, and then interview the person who wrote it. This is exactly what happened after I binged Ben Smith’s Traffic: Genius, Rivalry, and Delusion in the Billion-Dollar Race to Go Viral. Ben, now a founder of Semafor, formerly of the New York Times, and before that, EIC of Buzzfeed News, has written a contemporary history of the early news era in social media. There’s a lot about 2006-2016 that already seems foreign in retrospect. Ben’s book takes you back there, from the perspective of some major figures who tried to harness viral content to their own ends. Our conversation touches on, but is not limited to the following topics:

  • How did the New York Times win the big war over the future of media?

  • Jonah Peretti vs. Nick Denton (Buzzfeed vs. Gawker)

  • Was Nick Denton a genius?

  • Why Ben thinks that the Facebook app and Twitter app are dying

  • Is the NBA media more corrupt than other kinds of media?

  • Why are individuals gaining and institutions are losing?

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