There is the following passage in the article titled, “Why disruptors are always white guys” in New York Magazine September 10 issue:

It’s happening again. There’s a list of “media disruptors.” It’s predominantly white dudes. It need not be. And people are fed up. For, in the new-media renaissance of the past few years, there are women and minority “disruptors” everywhere if you only take the time to look. There’s Jane Pratt of xoJane; Ben Huh of Circa; Sharon Waxman of the Wrap; Sommer Mathis of CityLab.

And it goes on and on.

Coincidentally, there was an article titled “News Disrupters” in Vanity Fair (September 10) that began with the paragraph;

Who needs a boss anymore? The latest vogue in journalism is to leave cushy jobs at established news organizations—or else establish an autonomous power center within one.”

I can’t find neither “media disruptor” nor “news disruptor” in English dictionaries at hand, nor the relative definitions on google search.

GoogleNgram doesn’t show incidence of “media, nor news disruptor.”

Are “Media/news disruptor” internet jargons or new words? What do they mean in a short word?

3 Answers 3


Media or news disruptors refer to those people who are actually changing the traditional way the media or news industry is organised creating new business models. The term can be applied to any context to refer to someone or something that is going to bring about a radical change. The term disruption in this case is similar to innovation but has stronger implications as shown below:

Disruption Vs Innovation: What's The Difference?

  • People are sometimes confused about the difference between innovation and disruption. It’s not exactly black and white, but there are real distinctions, and it’s not just splitting hairs. Think of it this way: Disruptors are innovators, but not all innovators are disruptors— in the same way that a square is a rectangle but not all rectangles are squares.

    • Innovation and disruption are similar in that they are both makers and builders. Disruption takes a left turn by literally uprooting and changing how we think, behave, do business, learn and go about our day-to-day. Harvard Business School professor and disruption guru Clayton Christensen says that a disruption displaces an existing market, industry, or technology and produces something new and more efficient and worthwhile. It is at once destructive and creative.

Source: www.forbes.com

  • Can 'distruptor' be applied to any other arenas, e.g. political distruptor, technology distruptor, modern art distruptor, architecture distruptor, film distruptor, and cultural distruptor? Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 0:00
  • @YoichiOishi - as in the case of 'media disruptor' they are not very common definitions but they are used to convey the idea explained above. Probably because instances of disruptions are less common then instances of innovation. googlefight.com/…
    – user66974
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 7:06
  • The use of the word is new, but the idea, as applied to economics, is old - the classic example is the effect of the internal combustion engine on horses & horse related industry.
    – 01d55
    Commented Sep 16, 2014 at 14:45
  • @01d55 - that is very interesting. Can you produce some evidence on this issue?
    – user66974
    Commented Sep 16, 2014 at 14:47
  • @Josh61 Wiki on "creative destruction" the old word for this idea en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_destruction note especially 2.2. Horse & Buggy whip example in pop culture at 1:40 of this video youtube.com/watch?v=62kxPyNZF3Q (here's the speech DeVito is responding to youtube.com/watch?v=Uundu-aPiBQ)
    – 01d55
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 17:19

"Disruptor" is a fairly new buzzword. It can be used in a variety of contexts, not just with regards to the media.

  1. Airbnb is described as a disruptor to the accommodation industry
  2. Uber is described as a transportation services disruptor.

Basically, it means that something new (either a company, or a technology) comes along and changes an industry that was static. When the term is used in news articles, the incumbents in the industry are typically portrayed as villains, charging too much money and acting monopolistically.


The question has already been answered quite nicely; however, if I add anything, it's simply for clarity. Take the term "media" and view this as "mainstream media.' That is, the most well established form for information from the media used to be newspaper. A newspaper could be printed weekly, daily, or several times in a day, to a periodical only once a month to once every 3 months. Mainstream media of 1885 was done this way; but, "disruptors" to this with Radio, where one person's voice could read a news article out to millions across an entire region of America meant 'information' provided by the mainstream media was now 'disrupted" in some way or subterfuged by it.

The same held true with Television after WWII. A mainstream media of getting the word out via radio or newspaper..since millions of people still preferred to read it for themselves, Television disrupted the information media once again. News that used to simply come in "news" papers now could be presented on tV live into someone's living room, disrupting paper media as it's instant, and radio as the delivery is by a person in a suit you could respect. Large media corporations in America formed around North Atlantic/East Coast, Central Time, and Western Time zone (CBS, NBC, ABC, etc) The media determined what would be national news shared over these 3 networks, or what was reportable local news, with reporters going out paid by these stations to bring the public news

Then came the Internet, and instant access to news and things like "youtube" to "Facebook" where "your" or "I" can disrupt mainstream media primarily rooted in Television, newspaper, or radio, and disrupt it/make it less relevant - A regular person or "youtuber" can create news and generate millions of followers just like a TV network station can, which basically disrupts mainstream media control over information.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.