The Disruptors: Media companies shaking up the industry

- Digital media company NowThis doesn't even have a website. Instead, it pumps millennial-geared content directly onto social channels, like Facebook and Snapchat.

"The idea is to bring content to where audiences live today, verses trying to bring that to a website," NowThis president Athan Stephanopolous says.

NowThis started just four years ago and currently generates about 2.5 billion video views a month, larger than most traditional news organizations, he says. The company generates revenue from a combination of branded content and platform-specific ads.

"Without question we are disrupting the way in which traditional legacy media is reaching an audience," Stephanopolous says.

NowThis is one of a rapidly growing group of media disruptors that are changing what news looks like, and how it is delivered.

"We're just beginning to have a generation of news consumers who have never known traditional media," says Kyle Pope, the editor and publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review. "They don't know newspapers, they don't know magazines, they don't know television."

While those consumers may be drawn to accessible and easily digestible news like that churned out by NowThis, it doesn't mean they're not interested in in-depth, meaningful content.

Case in point: BuzzFeed, one of the original digital disruptors. The site rose to fame with clickable lists of cute animals but has since invested big time in hard news.

But getting people to believe that news is becoming more and more of a challenge, Pope says.

"There is an incredibly powerful disruptive force going on right now and that is that people simply don't believe what media is reporting," Pope says. He believes that distrust has fueled the growth of fake news.

"I think people are very untrusting of the media today, they're untrusting of the sites that are out there and the thing that people trust more than anything is other people," says Ryan Berger, a marketing consultant and partner in Hypr, a database of social influencers that helps brands pinpoint the demographic they want to reach in their advertising.

"People are fast-forwarding those commercials, people are not looking at those ads in magazines," he says. "Influencer marketing has become the most powerful form of media in the world, people believe other people. They trust them."

That could be why we're more likely to seek out news from people we perceive to be like us.

"I think the big moment we're in right now is in the partisanship of the content," CJR's Pope says. "It's not just Democrat or Republican, it has to do with what sort of culture you're interested in, what kind of music you're interested in, what kind of sports you follow and what kind of politics you're into. Those worlds can get really, really siloed and that in itself is a disruptive force."

So, as the media evolves, you can expect to see more outlets taking a side, to try to keep readers and viewers engaged in this age of so many options.

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