Several stories this week paint a grim picture for print media, and it’s especially grim for publications about tech business news. Forget starting a magazine. You’d be better off blogging about cats with poor grammar.
Forbes‘ Brian Caulfield details how the recent tech boom has created a media bust.
Silicon Valley is booming again. But if you work in tech media, there’s blood on the floor. Take Red Herring. It hung onto its offices after getting the eviction notice earlier this month. But gossip site Valleywag is breaking story after story not just on its beat–but about its woes. Meanwhile, bigger publications are hurting too: Time Warner’s (nyse: TWX – news – people ) Business 2.0 saw ad pages drop 21.8% through March from the same period a year ago; PC Magazine‘s editor in chief walked out the door after ad pages fell 38.8% over the same period; and one-time online powerhouse CNET is reporting growing losses even as the companies it covers flourish. It may be happening in tech first, but there’s no reason the same thing won’t happen, eventually, in every media niche.
[...Matt] Marshall says he now makes more than he did as a reporter. Meanwhile, the Mercury News laid off 31 of his former colleagues this month. “Where they can actually succeed is by taking a particular vertical and absolutely nailing it,” eMarketer’s Ramsey says of bloggers like Marshall.
Now consider this BusinessWeek story on LOLcat blog ICanHasCheezberger “brings in the big bucks”:
[...] He saw traffic on the blog, I Can Has Cheezburger, which he runs with his partner, “Tofuburger” (she refuses to disclose her real name) double each month: 375,000 hits in March, 750,000 in April, 1.5 million in May. Cheezburger now gets 500,000 page views a day from between 100,000 and 200,000 unique visitors, according to Nakagawa. The cheapest ad costs $500 for a week. The most expensive goes for nearly $4,000. Nakagawa, an accidental entrepreneur who saw his successful business materialize out of the ether, quit his programming job at the end of May: “It made more sense to do this and see how big it could get.”
Still, Mashable‘s Pete Cashmore, who links to the LOLcat piece, warns us not to get carried away, thinking anyone can be a six-figure blogger overnight. Cashmore should know; his blog has grown exponentially over the past year.
What these stories miss is that, hour by hour and minus expenses, blogging is a fairly low paid job considering the high caliber of the people involved; the really smart kids are building the startups, not writing about them. And yet some blogs are now funded, which surely implies an exit/acquisition of some kind.
Alright, Pete. I hear ya. But what about top consultancies that blog about business? Are we waiting for for our LOLcat to bark?