Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Gawker Sells Wonkette

WONKETTE is being spun off to the managing editor, Ken Layne, former founder of one of the web's very first news sites, Tabloid.net. The title will become part of the Blogads network of political sites, which includes Daily Kos, among others.

Why these three sites? To be blunt: they each had their editorial successes; but someone else will have better luck selling the advertising than we did.

- from an internal email from Nick Denton, owner of Gawker Media

Is the sale (or "spin-off" as it's been called) of the political blog Wonkette by Gawker Media due to its non-profitable nature at a shaky ecomomic time a harbinger of like-fate for other (more recent) professional political bloggers who've arrived on the scene since Wonkette? From Financial Times' chief business commentator and blogger John Gapper:
Wonkette was the closest thing [Denton] had to a general news site focusing on a traditional subject. That did not make it attractive to any particular group of advertisers, so Wonkette was not very profitable.

Nick has himself put the sale in the context of hunkering down for an advertising recession. It raises the broader point that a lot of “free” content on the internet ultimately depends on attracting advertising.

If there is none in the segment, then the future of blogs as businesses is suspect. I wonder what this means for the newer online politics publications such as the Huffington Post and Politico?"

I can't help but wonder....should we expect that the professional political blogosphere could implode in economic hard times and leave behind in their wake only the blogs that stemmed from and exist on pure passion - like my own - who began and continue to operate with no expectation of financial support? If and when the mainstream media focus is all but gone because of lack of advertising dollars, will the professionals continue to write blogs that aren't producing healthy profits...and will anyone still be out there interested in reading the product of those who've never made a dime from the process?

Ken Layne, the new owner of Wonkette, is interviewed in today's LA Times.
"Obviously, I like political news to be subsidized by fluff. This is why whatever half-naked tart of the month is on the cover of Vanity Fair, but inside you get these great news features and investigations and political rants. I don't mind that situation. But the truth is that fewer publishers/broadcasters in any medium are willing to subsidize news and politics. Tribune Co. doesn't want to do it, the TV networks don't want to do it."

The prolific writer Henry Miller once consciously separated himself from the fluff...from the convenient and casual lies that make people economically wealthy...from the concerns of the present with a courageous - or perhaps a desperate eye to a future that might look back upon his hard wisdom and see that he fought his way through the chaos of his time in a strikingly glorious and forthright manner...with no pretense about the revision of history. I'd like to think that this political blog of my own and that of many of my still-poor friends-in-blogging might be seen the same way...not for the money we made, but for the truth we saw and never failed to mention while money-makers edited and frivolously fluffed-up themselves in the pursuit of the almighty advertising dollar.

"For me the book [the blog] is the man woman and my book my blog is the man the woman I am, the confused man woman, the negligent man woman, the reckless man woman, the lusty, obscene, boisterous, thoughtful, scrupulous, lying, diabolically truthful man woman that I am. I am thinking that in that age to come I shall not be overlooked. Then my history will become important and the scar which I leave upon the face of the world will have significance. I can not forget that I am making history, a history on the side which, like a chancre, will eat away the other meaningless history. I regard myself not as a book a blog, a record, a document, but as a history of our time—a history of all time."

- Henry Miller, from "On Writing", edited for the blogger of today

...or maybe I should lower the bar .... post pictures of men stripped down to their skivvies and talk like I'm a bad girl rather than posting my naked honesty ... then I might finally make some good old-fashioned American dough.....