Today was a pretty good day for Medium.
A cynic might think that the Medium spat between Amazon’s Jay Carney and the New York Times’ Dean Baquet is little more than another indication that the platform is becoming a soapbox on top of which #brands pretend to be people. This isn’t a fight between Carney and Baquet so much as it’s a public relations campaign from a tech company fighting against the paper of record’s reporting.
But there’s another interpretation: This fight, and the ones that will undoubtedly follow it, show just how pervasive Medium has become as a viable publishing platform.
Amazon could have released Carney’s remarks as a press release. Hell, it could’ve given all the information to a sympathetic publication that wouldn’t have minded to take the New York Times down a peg. Instead its senior vice president for global corporate affairs at Amazon decided to publish what looks like a personal blog post on a network popular amongst Silicon Valley workers. (Update: And now, yet another response from Carney.)
The decision is even stranger from the New York Times’ perspective. It’s not like the company doesn’t have a publication — most of it is a publication, for crying out loud — it could’ve used to respond to Carney’s list of complaints. Instead it made a Medium account for the paper’s public relations team, had the executive editor write a letter of rebuttal, then published it on a nascent social platform. The paper did link to Baquet’s letter on its corporate website, but that’s it.
“As you point out, we did a post on our press blog, PressRun, where this kind of response would normally live,” a New York Times spokesperson said when asked why Baquet’s post was published on Medium, “But we linked to Medium because we thought it made the most sense to continue the conversation where it had began – on that platform.”
Countless news pieces will be written as a result of this spat. (This is the second I’ve written in as many hours.) These stories will link back to Medium — unlike these anxious bloggers at the tops of some of the most influential companies in the country, most writers link to pieces they discuss or respond to — and could maybe convince readers to click around to see if anything else is worth reading.
There are all kinds of metrics one could use to gauge Medium’s success. The company says it prefers to use the amount of time people spend reading the posts shared to its platform. Others might look to the $57 million in funding raised by the company just last month.
Perhaps the fact that these two posts, from a company known more for its “no comment” responses to press inquiries and the man in charge of the country’s leading newspaper, were published on the platform is the best indicator for how important Medium has become.