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Yes, Well, Kinda, But . . .

Posted by: Jon Fine on March 23, 2006

“The Internet, for all its technological dazzle and ambitious individual voices, is still weak on producing revenue.”

—The Wall Street Journal’s Adrian Wooldridge, reviewing Glenn Reynolds’ An Army of Davids.

Absolutely true—in old media terms, in which case you’ve gotta be pornography, the Wall Street Journal, or catering to completely rabidly deranged sports fans to score a buck from consumers.

If you’re not, well, pick an example. I’ll take Josh Marshall, the severely wonky New Democrat who mints serious ad revenue and is growing a mini-empire off his Talking Points Memo.

The counter-argument to that, articulated in Clive Thompson’s interesting but arguably seriously flawed New York Magazine cover story: The blogosphere has already created its hierarchy, and it’s getting almost as hard to break through there as it is elsewhere in media.

Oh yeah—I think major advertisers who’ve been asking can tell you how cheap [cough] prominent front page placement on places like Yahoo and MSN are these days.

Reader Comments


March 24, 2006 8:27 AM

The consumer of media views their consumption as reading/listening/watching. How the industry's profit model works is of no interest to the consumer. Consumers will flock to their favorite, even if unprofitable, products- Arrested Development, free mp3s, blogs, zines. Because taste is fickle, consumers, particularly young consumers, have no problem in latching onto a brand and fondly remembering it when the venture capital runs out- they're onto the next promising idea. One thing the internet era created was the idea that media should be free and coffee should cost $5.



March 30, 2006 4:57 PM

I beg to differ. The revenue is there in spades, and while the revenue in dollar terms does not equal that of print, neither do the costs.
The major difference is the profit margin. While 30% seems to be a benchmark for print media these days, online efforts often hover around 80% profitability.
Does online make enough to pay for a printing press, ink, presonnel to run the press and personnel to manage the those who run the press? No, but why the hell should it?
Further more, the print business can have hundreds of employees contributing to it's success, but at newspapers the online department is often represented by a just a few individuals.

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