Great stuff, Gabe. Really insightful.
I would characterize this (optimistically, as is my wont) as part of a healthy super-cycle. At first, there were individuals who shared their ideas and stories directly with other people — bards, minstrels, playwrights, storytellers. Then, with the rise of mass media (first the printing press, then radio and tv), the people who bankrolled distribution started branding the content, and organizing it thematically in the form of magazines, newspapers, and tv channels. Now, as curation through social sharing and algorithmic curation are proving to be more compelling to most people than the comparatively clumsy curation of brands, the brands — some of which we have come to love — are losing their raison d’etre.
I like to think that there will always be a place for brands that represent something truly distinctive, with a natural barrier to entry, such as rigor around news gathering (witness The New York Times, for instance, which is doing better than many would have forecast a few years ago). But for analysis, opinion and first person narrative, in a world in which distribution is essentially free, the natural organizing principal should be the brand of the individual, not the brand of the distributor.
This, as you have noted above, is why we have started Heleo.com (and no doubt why the Medium founders started Medium, which is a wonderful platform). The silver lining, here, is more focus on the source of great ideas and stories — people. And more direct and interesting ways for readers and writers to interact.