Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

The Demise Of The Net Magazine

JonKatz posted more than 13 years ago | from the -why-the-end-of-Suck-sucks- dept.

The Internet 229

Yet another phase of the Net era ended earlier this week when two of the Web's oldest magazines, Feed and Suck, merged last year into Automatic Media, announced they were shutting down and laying off their already miniscule staffs. The end of these two ground-breaking sites, and the troubles afflicting Salon, Inside and Slate are historic for new media and cyberspace. Many in the geek and hacker universe have arrogantly underestimated Big Media as being both toothless and clueless. It's true that they don't really want to shut you up or throw you in jail -- you aren't worth the cost or trouble. But that doesn't mean they're harmless. Big Media will homogenize opinion, marginalize you and other smaller competitors and make it impossible for anyone else to compete or grow in the emerging Net AOL/Disney/Sony information economy.

The virtual extinction of the online magazine is upon us. Slate exists primarily as a massively-subsidized bulletin board for narcissistic Washington and New York publishing and media people -- it wouldn't last an hour without Microsoft's cash. Word folded last year and Salon is in almost continuous decline, struggling to stay afloat by doing something it really, really, didn't want to do -- charging subscribers for some of its content. Earlier this year, the floundering, media-centric, super-hyped Inside.com was swallowed up by Stephen Brill's Contentville.

One of the persistent myths about the Net has been that because it costs so little to publish online, and the technology makes it so simple, diversity can flourish in cyberspace no matter how big "Big" media gets. As we're learning, that isn't so. The history of media, especially of the large corporatized media of modern times, is that individuals, small groups, and people with some common interests can spout off to their heart's content on their own websites, pages, mailing lists, and in chat rooms, just as they once did in pamphlets and on posters. But independent, distinctive and varied media entities find it just as difficult to compete with conglomerates online as off.

This creates an odd new reality for media online. Individual voices have never been freer, more numerous or outspoken -- witness the rise of instant messaging and inward-looking p2p forums. But they've also never been more marginalized or insignificant.

What happened to the traditional media -- acquisition by conglomerates that offer diverse services which happen to include tepid and homogenized content -- is happening in cyberspace, too.

As Feed and Suck, two of the smarter, more attitudinal publications of the Net's first generation, vanish, they will not be replaced by similar kinds of publications. The difficulties of competing for staff, services and content with Big Media have become dauntingly obvious. AOL Time-Warner is now the largest media company in the world, with revenues of $36.2 billion. Disney is second, at $25.8 billion, followed by Viacom ($20 billion), Vivendi Universal ($17.7 billion), Bertelsmann ($15.7), News Corporation ($14.2 billion) and Sony ($10 billion). Feed and/or Suck could each have gone a decade on one day's petty cash from any of these companies.

Against these behemoths Feed and Suck had a combined editorial staff of between four and eight people, according to the New York Times, and the publications had no marketing budgets with which to reach beyond their small, and generally, elitist, readerships. Nor did they have enough of a sales force to generate additional revenue. They couldn't drawn enough subscribers, or raise even a small amount of money. That's a pretty chilling bit of media truth.

AOL Time Warner has Wall Street investors drooling over its new "all you can eat" Net access strategy. It's now a company that can deliver to its subscribers nearly every form of media content -- magazines, movies, web sites -- via every form of delivery -- including print, Net, wireless, digital, cable and phone. Sure, countless grown-ups and adolescents can still spout off on its mailing lists and public discussion forums. But individualistic sites like Feed, Suck and Salon can't deliver in all those different modes, can't offer large numbers of consumers the same range of services. They can't give you all you can eat, or even that big a meal.

This is a danger that much of the hacker universe has missed from the beginning. The problem isn't that cops will show up at your doors, and close down our sites and shut us up. Why should they bother? The real threat is that companies like AOL Time Warner and media outlets like MSN are already marginalizing, then eliminating lesser competitors by offering vast amounts of content and service to middle-class consumers at relatively low cost. Idiosyncratic Net voices get stilled by economics: they're forced into positions where they can't function independently or competitively. And a lot is going to be lost - like diversity of opinion. AOL Time Warner's idea of fierce civic discussion is a spokesman for the left, and one from the right, screaming at each other.

Salonhas for years provided some of the smartest coverage of technology anywhere. None of the big media companies offer smart and smart-ass commentary the way Suckonce did. What's the last provocative story or discussion you saw in a Disney or AOL Time Warner property or on AOL?

In an only-recently different world, Time's reporters would be keeping an eye on companies like AOL. Now, Time itself is one of the behemoth's smallest and least significant properties. What's the last story you read there?

"This has got to be some type of conservative plot to restrict free-thinking attitudes," Plastic contributor Star Freed wrote in the site's chat area earlier this week. "I'm sure of it." But he's flattering himself. In the Corporate Republic formerly known as the United States, neither liberals nor conservatives need a plot to wipe out a small magazine website. Big Media will do it for them.

Weblogs and blogs can be vibrant and fascinating. So can mailing lists and me-to-me-media media entities. But they don't reach significant numbers of people; the don't have significant influence; they don't offer any real bulkwark against the AOL-ing of the Net. Nor are they a substitute for truly free-wheeling, idiosyncratic media outlets.

These defunct sites aren't blameless. While Feed and Suck offered interesting original and provocative reading, they never quite embraced the power of interactivity. They never really gave readers a role in agenda-setting, and they clung too long to old, top-down media sensibilities. Salon has never quite shaken the feeling that it's at heart a newspaper/print magazine grafted onto the Web.

For all that, these online magazines were and are interesting and important. Disney, AOL and Sony are, at their core, entertainment entities, not journalistic ones. They aren't interested in free speech or outspoken opinion that might offend potential consumers or spook advertisers and stockholders; they function according to the principle of mass-marketing, not hell-raising or intellectual exploration.

The corporatization of media ought to be a hot political issue, but who's going to raise it? AOL? The members of congress whose campaigns are funded by large corporations? The public has little consciousness that its media have been taken over by conglomerates.

The process that has essentially homogenized the popular press and made it irrelevant to anybody under 50 is spreading online, unopposed by regulators or by the Netizens who ought to be up in arms about the creation of a monstrous entity like AOL Time-Warner.

The demise of Suck truly sucks.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Re:hmm...so the fault lies... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#151347)

It would seem as if people value the content of media itself very little. What they are looking for is the community around the media. Consuming mainstream media makes you part of the mainstream, it makes you feel like you belong to something large and popular. This is why people are happy to spend $9 to see "Pearl Harbor". It is $9 spent on being part of the community and feeling like you belong. $1 spent on Salon or Suck is a waste of money because it only provides you with ideas and thoughts which are condradictory to the mainstream ideal, and are therefore don't satisfy people's need to belong. Additionally, economies of scale make it impossible for a small magazine (even a web magazine) to compete with a multi-industry conglomerate, even if they both made the same amount from subscription fees.

Liars. Thieves and Liars. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#151348)

Web media sites fail because no one wants to pay for content. People go to sites every week, week in and week out, but refuse to pay fees equivalent to a weekly magazine or Sunday paper. They visit some sites every day, day in and day out, and then sniff that the content has little value to them, that it isn't worth thier money. (these are often the same people who in other contexts, will smugly tout the superiority of "New Media", it's ability to get the latest news to them faster than dinosaur print and co-opted mega-media tie-in sites) They visit a site several times a day, every day, and then scoff that the content the site gives them they can easily find on a dozen other places, and they still refuse to pay, not that site, and not any of the other dozen sites they contemptuously claim they can alternatively get thier info from. They will log into thier favorite chatrooms and messageboards, and bemoan the death of the latest website, and snarkily blame bad management, or a bad economy, or stupid people who don't "get it". They will champion thier particular version of web business sucess, wherein if only the company advertised more, or less or differently, or not at all or asked for donations, or micropayments or barter they would have survived. Because of course, if the costs had been, oh..a dollar a year, they would have paid. Or two dollars. Or five cents an article. Or .001362833 cents a click. Or whatever mythical number (hovering conveniently below whatever number the site ever, ever tried to float to users, only to be scorned and spurned) they claim would have been efficient enough and fair enough and worth enough to them to pay. Stuff. Costs. Money. Salaries. Bandwidth. Hardware. It all costs. People. Don't. Pay. Not ever. They will hack, crack, webwash, block, re-route, anonymize, copy, share, forward, ware-ize whine and bitch and moan and sneer and flame, but they will not pay. They will not pay, and they will not look at advertising. And then the sites die. It's just not very mysterious.

Marginalized (2)

Tony Shepps (333) | more than 13 years ago | (#151352)

This creates an odd new reality for media online. Individual voices have never been freer, more numerous or outspoken -- witness the rise of instant messaging and inward-looking p2p forums. But they've also never been more marginalized or insignificant.

If you're reading this, it means we're not marginalized yet.

You've got a point. (1)

Indomitus (578) | more than 13 years ago | (#151353)

I wish I hadn't just used up my last moderator point.

I think it does have to do with Media though. Especially the news and commercials. Our 30min news broadcasts have taught us to expect all of our information to come in 30sec bite-sized chunks with a visual and a talking head telling us what to think. Commercials have trained us to think in those 30sec chunks also, just reinforcing the behavior.

Why's it different from the print media case? (1)

rsidd (6328) | more than 13 years ago | (#151366)

The mass media is for, well, the masses -- pretty much by definition. Specialised or non-mainstream opinions will not get popular no matter how high-quality the publication. Something like salon is by its very nature non-mainstream.

It is possible for web-based startups to succeed over traditional mass media. In India, for example, the extremely popular rediff [rediff.com] is not controlled by the traditional newspaper houses (it came from an advertising agency, I think) and more recently, an upstart called tehelka [tehelka.com] has been making big news, mainly on corruption exposes.

What's needed is intelligent marketing, good content for a broad-spectrum audience with the occasional "scoop" to retain audience interest, and high-quality presentation. The same things as for traditional print media or TV. Nothing new here.

I guess if you'll just have to read (2)

gelfling (6534) | more than 13 years ago | (#151367)

Wouldn't that be ironic. To preserve free thinking people will have to communicate using a mysterious black art....the printed page.

See this is the great fallacy of the net - that it would simply change the world. It didn't it won't and it never can. For if it was possible then the typewriter would have been the second or third greatest invention in the history of civilisation. Easy creation of content and easier access guarantees nothing if what you say falls on deaf ears or people are too busy getting their poles greased to pay attention.

Take a look at a mass media site like ABC News. The average article takes less than a minute to fully read at a 6th grade level. The front page is a testament to ADHD, the visual equivalent to Tourette's Syndrome. And be clear the most significant way to write pithy yet short focused articles is in response to something. If you didn't know anything about culture or politics then you would never get anything out of the one page articles that are the the genius of Lewis Lapham. Which is context you really don't need when you read the latest news cum stain on USAToday that correlates astrology with the weather.

So in the end it will be harcopy that survives and the ephemera of the web will be used to bolster television but not exist independently of it.

format AND content (5)

gelfling (6534) | more than 13 years ago | (#151368)

The site you refer to prides itself on "hardhitting" "nobullshit" Bill O'Reilly in- your-face I-dare-you-to-differ-with-me news all served up on a platter for people who can't distinguish or don't want to, editorial from news. Apart from the political slant which you nailed squarely. Else The Nation would be the hottest website in the world. Which its not because like it or not, sites like The Nation require the reader to think whereas The Free Republic merely requires the reader to have an opinion and type.

BTW two of the biggest columnists @ Salon are David Horowitz and Camille Paglia neither of which are very far to the left of Ghengis Khan.

New Media = Narcissism (1)

dgenr8 (9462) | more than 13 years ago | (#151369)

"New Media" is the term that people (dare I say like yourself) came up with to describe the Internet. They did this because they were initially unable to comprehend the aspects of it that were not directly analagous to their world. There are a range of totally wrong implications to the term, which have not been borne out in practice. For example, that having an "online magazine" was a reasonable thing to do.

Calling it "New Media" is about as accurate as calling it "New Bookstore" or "New Pornhouse."

Sig. Heil!

Business models and revenue the REAL culprits. (2)

malkavian (9512) | more than 13 years ago | (#151370)

Hey, and people thought I was paranoid!!
I don't believe for a moment that the failure of online magazines is the fault of the big monopolies and existing media providers.
For a start, the existing media providers all set up with the model that to produce an expensive distribution (I.e. magazines, tv shows, movies etc) they had to sort out a means whereby they could make enough money from it to enable them to make the next one, and pay the staff for their time.
A lot of online magazines simply didn't do this, and relied on revenue streams of banner ads, if that, to pay their bandwidth and staff bills.
With the proliferation of banner ads (they're far cheaper than magazine ads), eventually, their revenue won't keep up with costs.. Thus the company goes out of business.
This problem has been afflicting many suberb publications since time immemorial in many different media...
I happen to work for an online publication (a very sizable sports information site), in which the management, to gain extra revenue, contract out the skills of the staff to implement projects for other companies who don't have the necessary skills/resources to achieve this.
Lo and behold, the company is still going strong, and with a decent revenue stream, capitalising on the skills it has.
Why blame the big guys, just because the little guys didn't quite get it right?
It's sad, but it happens.
It's a money driven world in the net these days, and to stay in the game, you need to pay your distributors (ISPs instead of printers) and staff, just like all the other businesses in there..
Perhaps many of us techs suffer from the arrogance that just because we operate in an advanced and new media, we're exempt from all the practices that have preceeded for hundreds of years..

Malk

Re:The real reason Salon and Slate are failing (4)

elmegil (12001) | more than 13 years ago | (#151375)

What a fscking troll.

With conservatives running the show in Washington, the country is beginning to gravitate back towards its moral roots.

Those puritan roots are what you're talking about? Never mind the convicts and other criminals that also helped establish the colonies...

And of course, this trend toward our puritan roots is why rude rap songs about sex, teenaged slut pop and online pr0n are doing so well....>coff<.

The fact is, Suck & Feed had little to nothing with being "mouthpieces for the liberal left", and inasmuch as Salon & Slate do, their failures have nothing to do their ideology and everything to do with the fact that banner ads just don't support a website unless they're porn ads.

How about another web magazine that somewhat disproves Jon Katz's poorly thought out premise? Nerve! They seem to be doing well, they're definitely not conservative, and their main selling point seems to be that they are just respectable enough to not be dismissed as pr0n while still appealing enough to that same part of people to be successful.

Re:The real reason Salon and Slate are failing (2)

Augusto (12068) | more than 13 years ago | (#151376)

I think there is a lot of truth in your post, with the major point being objection to the content.

While salon.com has some articles of interest, they usually just lean "left" most of the time (whatever that means), and offer little intelligent articles explaining the "other side".

As a non-extremist, I'd like to see different views, not propaganda. To me salon.com is just as absurd as it's opposite twin newsmax.com, why a person would trust "investigative" journalism from sites with political agendas will always escape me.

Jon, you forgot a minor detail... (1)

Hari_Seldon (13869) | more than 13 years ago | (#151377)

Jon, I believe that you forgot a key factor that not only deals with the workings of the online world, but also the rest of society. This factor can best be described by Robert Heinlein's The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress with TANSTAAFL or there ain't no such thing as a free lunch. In order to survive online, the bills must be paid somehow, and drastic times call for drastic measures sometimes. Just look at this site, which started out as an independent work, but had to merge with Andover.net in order to not just survive, but also grow.

The only way I can see us, as a society, move away from this factor and into something where we only rely on the ideas of others is to do away with greed by taking Rodenberry's approach and remove money altogether. Another side affect is that this would do away with the giant coglomerate corporations that serve little, if any, purpose now.

Re:The real reason Salon and Slate are failing (3)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 13 years ago | (#151378)

I've never read Slate, only read an article or two from Suck that were linked on Slashdot, but regularly read Salon--not for the politics, but for the tech coverage first, then books and movies. That's more or less it. I actually rather like Salon's in-depth technical articles, though most of the rest of it I could do without.

I think other people in this discussion have hit the nail on the head when they said it's not about content or dissenting opinions, it's about ad revenue dwindling and vanishing. Look at Keenspot [keenspot.com] and Sluggy Freelance [sluggy.com] , both of which have instituted "if you pay us, you'll be supporting our site(s) and you won't have to see banner ads" programs. Look at Themestream [themestream.com] , which went belly-up, and TheVines [thevines.com] , which looks like it's also headed for extinction. Look at all the free ISPs that have either vanished or consolidated and cut way back on the services they offer. Banner ads just don't work.

There definitely does need to be a new model for websites to earn revenue. The problem is, nobody's really sure just what it is yet. Tipping might work, but only if the tipper is willing to subscribe to the payment service used by the tippee. Micropayments sound good, but there are a whole bunch of hurdles in the way, and there's no more venture capital [wired.com] to develop such a system.

Whatever happens, it seems like ad banners are rapidly becoming so ineffective now that having them at all is tantamount to a superstitious gesture, like crossing your fingers or putting a horseshoe up over the door--it makes you feel better, but doesn't actually do anything.
--

Mixed feelings (4)

double_h (21284) | more than 13 years ago | (#151383)

In a way, I'm not really all that sad about the demise of Suck. I was a regular reader of the site from its inception, and one of the key points of the Suck philosophy back then was this: know when to cash in. Nothing on the internet lasts forever, so make the best of it when you can. The fact that they were saying this in 1995-1996 is proof of their insight and wisdom. The guys who started Suck made quite a name for themselves, and I'm sure they'll have little problem keeping gainfully employed for the rest of their careers. More power to them.

On the other hand, I do want to see high quality independent journalism and commentary survive on the net - I think that independent/grassroots journalism [indymedia.org] is one of the greatest things to come out of the internet, and I want to see it survive and propogate. But I don't have any answers as to how to pay for all the bandwidth that a popular site involves -- with any luck, bandwidth will become less of an issue in time, and this will make it easier for people to self-publish in any kind of significant way.

You can't have your cake and eat it too. (3)

schmack (32384) | more than 13 years ago | (#151389)

One of the persistent myths about the Net has been that because it costs so little to publish online, and the technology makes it so simple, diversity can flourish in cyberspace no matter how big "Big" media gets. As we're learning, that isn't so.

How is this a myth? This statement is absolutely true. It's never been cheaper to set up a website online. Many, many hosting companies offer web-serving, email, dns delegation, gigabytes in monthly traffic, and access to back-end technologies such PHP and ASP for under $20 a month. This kind of affordability just doesn't exist in any other form of media.

Suck was set up in the spare time of a couple of Hotwired employees - it quickly become an icon of intelligent/satirical commentary on the web. It was a success. Once they tried to to operate the site as a business it was then matter of waiting for the money to run out - but I for one certainly wouldn't be pointing fingers at big media in looking for the reason for their downfall.

Somewhere along the line large numbers of people stopped seeing the web as a cheap and effective place to publish original commentary or to host free-flowing discussion groups. Instead, they began eyeballing the bank balances of the ever-increasing numbers of geek-millionaires and looking to get a little of that action for themselves.

Katz, diversity can and does flourish in 'cyberspace', it just doesn't necessarily turn a profit doing so. That's all you seem to be saying.

--

you're halfway there.. (1)

ebbv (34786) | more than 13 years ago | (#151390)


an intelligent person reads opposing viewpoints.

so even if (and i'm doubtful) most people are conservatives right now, intelligent ones would still read well written liberal/left-wing articles (and vice versa.)

however, the key thing is that these sites all suck (no pun intended.)

their articles are rarely even entertaining, let alone informative or thought-provoking. consequently, nobody bothers reading them.
...dave

One reason some of them don't make money (2)

e-gold (36755) | more than 13 years ago | (#151395)

(at least in Salon's case) is that they refuse to even consider alternate ways of getting paid. Needless to say, I'm not going to be nearly as sympathetic as Mr. Katz if/when they die but they don't even bother to ask for tips...

Synopsis of e-mail conversation (not direct quotes) is below...

Salon: "We're losing money on this banner-ad thingy, so now we want $30!"

Me: "Maybe Salon shouldn't lock people into a $30 relationship for wanting to read ONE article, when reading one article can easily be paid-for with e-gold [e-gold.com] ."

Salon: "Sorry, we don't want to think about that right now."

(Who knows? Maybe when Salon runs ALL THE WAY out of money they'll try something new?)
JMR

Speaking once-again only for myself -- nobody else around here is quite this annoying! :)

Re:Bullshit! (seconded!) (2)

Sun Tzu (41522) | more than 13 years ago | (#151401)

Yep... and if they don't care to shut us up, what's the problem? I can find whatever I want on the web no matter how big the conglomerates get. Further, I can publish anything I want and people who know how to look can find it.

But if you're gonna play the business game, you gotta make money. I guess that bothers an 'online journalist' like Katz more than it bothers me. ;)

So Close.... (1)

Steve B (42864) | more than 13 years ago | (#151402)

OK, this time you made it 944 words without using the term "Corporate Republic". C'mon, Jon -- a few brain workouts, a few pep talks, and you can make it to 1000. I believe in you!
/.

Could it be Feed & Suck just sucked? (2)

Multics (45254) | more than 13 years ago | (#151404)

I perhaps am a minority of one, but I thought the 'attitudinal' coverage from Suck (in particular) was flawed, often incorrect, and frequently on the edge of liable. Let's look at Feed's article on IBM: The Final Solutions Company [feedmag.com] for example. Here are some of the things that were wrong with that article (I am, BTW, not a lover of IBM, I just like fair-play):

The author of the book was highly biased, having been fired by IBM.

The title of the article was inflamitory, to put it nicely.

The whole spin towards "war is good for profits".

A lack of perspective about all of WW II.

Revisionism.

And finally, and quietly, the lawsuit that was filed against IBM (a PR stunt if there ever was one) was withdrawn.

Does 'journalism' that is that badly screwed up need to continue to see the light of day?

It's too bad Katz didn't just say, "most magazines fail and these two fit that mold". Instead there must be grand, over-arching understanding of 'phases of the net'.

NOT

Suck sucked. Get over it.

-- Multics.

P.S. Salon sucks too. What insanity is it to post things like "the us spies too much". Flawed analysis will get you closed faster than anything but missing advertisement dollars.

Perhaps I'm Missing the Point... (2)

jyuter (48936) | more than 13 years ago | (#151407)

but what is the difference between a highly specific website tailored to the "elite" and a print magazine which does the same? Print media has the advantage of charging per-issue AND has advertising revenue. And yet, magazines still fold.

The reason is simple. Magazines and Netzines serve a purpose and a constituency. If their market for whatever reason decides not to support it, then obviously it will have to close up shop. I can't expect a publication tailored to a small market to survive for too long with other publications with a larger one.

Need good advertising system for revenue (2)

levik (52444) | more than 13 years ago | (#151408)

I think that the reason so much troubles are plaguing independent sites is that their revenue model, dependent on ad revenue, is backed by inefficient and ineffective ad display systems.

I believe this topic was previously discussed /., but no real solution arrived at.

I personally think that an ad-serving system should be developed in the open source community that would facilitate easy ad sales/link exchanges, that would be full featured enough to become somwhat of an industry standard. The Apache of ad-serving so to speak.

The existance of this "Ad-pache" would allow smaller sites to have an easier time selling ads and attracting revenue. And of course it would have to provide all the bells and whistles like time/geo targeting, etc, and possibly some of the other features not offered by anyone else (like ad feedback, etc)

With such a system in place and showing tangible results, the playing field might be leveled for the small guy.

Brother, can you paradigm? (1)

meepzorb (61992) | more than 13 years ago | (#151409)

I have become more and more convinced that the net is simply not a serious vehicle for business. Which is basically what those in the know were saying back in 1993/94 when the whole Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland "hey kids... let's start a web shop!" hysteria began. Full circle.

So this doesnt worry me at all. Television, newspapers, magazines: We already have our gullets chock full of for-profit journalism. And guess what? it's all homogeneous and shallow crap.

If the web isnt capable of supporting for-profit journalism, so what? Independant journalism wont die. In fact, with the wanna-be-future-media-moguls out of the way, there will be room for new players with better ideas.

So goodbye, net mags. Maybe now new, more interesting models can evolve.

:M

Re:the subversion of democracy? (5)

WombatControl (74685) | more than 13 years ago | (#151414)

You've got the first part absolutely right on the head. An active and informed citizenry is crucial to a free state. You are also correct in pointing out that Americans are rarely active and informed. Yes, this is a problem.

But blaming the "Corporate Republic" is an intellectual cop-out. First of all, the entire concept is a load of bullshit. You better damn well believe that if the government had any real desire to shut down Microsoft or AOL, they could. Corporations aren't more powerful than government, they only sometimes seem that way. If America were really owned lock stock and barrel by corporations then we wouldn't be seeing the load of regulatory garbage that gets passed through Congress each year.

The idea that corporations are able to shirk all responsibility is also BS. Corporations live and breathe by the market, and the market is driven by the consumer. The reasons we're seeing all this vertical integration is sure as hell not out of some kind of diabolic plan to squelch the voices of independent content producers, but because it's getting harder and harder to attract the kind of audiences that media outlets are used to. Hence AOL buying everything from ICQ to Netscape - they need to get subscribers to keep their bottom line. If you've got several million eyeballs, you can keep afloat of ads... and even then it's a crapshoot. "Big Media" isn't more powerful than ever... it's trying desperately to keep from hemorraging cash by spreading itself around. In the end, that may only make the situation worse.

Unless corporations understand market demands, they're doomed to end up pretty well fucked [fuckedcompany.com] . Corporations have an *extreme* amount of accountability, to their shareholders, to the market, and more important to the consumers. AOL is sucessful because it caters to a large group of people and does it well. Ditto Microsoft, or almost any other major corporation.

This whole "corporate republic" bullshit is getting real old. It's the same anti-capitalist rhetoric that should have been buried a long time ago. The alternative proposed by this New Left is a socialist system where the *government* runs everything - and all you need to do is go take a little trip to a former or current Communist country to see where that would lead us. (And don't talk about Sweden like it was paradise either - they have a yearly national dept equal to 133% of their GNP. That's a burn rate that would make some dot coms flinch!)

So elitism isn't a good business plan? (1)

dave-fu (86011) | more than 13 years ago | (#151418)

Thanks. I'll keep that in mind in the future.
You can point the bone at Big Media crushing the 'net zines, or you can point it at disappearing ad dollars and "big media" and other "traditional" news sources finally "getting" the web and putting out products that people want on it, the (inherently?) losing proposition subsidized by their traditional offerings.
Can you really cry for Suck and Feed dying at the same time you pooh-pooh Salon for (gasp!) trying to stay afloat? No, their content ain't what it used to be, but the age of micropayments is still far off, and smarter folks are doing what they can to stay in business [arstechnica.com] .

THose sites sucked... (1)

phunhippy (86447) | more than 13 years ago | (#151420)

I don't personally anyone who actually read those sites, I work for a larget networking company and not one person here ever read them.. Its no surprised they all failed or are failing, they were'nt very interesting to read... not flamebait.. jsut the truth...

The problem is, advertisers are seeing the truth.. (3)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 13 years ago | (#151421)

The problem is mainly the truth that advertisers may be coming to grips with: that their whole business may not be as effective as they believed.

When advertisers place ads in magazines / on TV, they try to get our attention with flashy scenes, big pages, etc. But the fact is that 99% of people ignore them. And even if they DO pay attention to the ads, the odds of the add enticing them to purchase anything are low.

Until now, advertisers have had no die hard proof about how much their ads were affecting revenues. One can't monitor everyone who buys a magazine and see how many were affected by a particular ad. All you can do is make extrapolations based on the aggrigate.

But with internet ads, you can see EXACTLY how effective an ad is. If your clickthrough is low, the ad is not effective (at least that is the premise). So the revenues go down. It's that simple.

This whole way of measuring ad effectiveness is ludicrous. There are no ways to measure "clickthrough" rates for magazine ads or TV ads, so why should web sites be subject to the same thing?

Maybe this decline of the internet ad industry will cause some people depending on advertising to take a look at what they are spending so much money on, and ask if it is really effective at all, and if so, to what degree.


Re:What a Load (3)

iso (87585) | more than 13 years ago | (#151423)

People don't "read" Slashdot. They skim it. Most people don't even really read the posts before they start writing replies, and don't even ask about clicking links to read off-site articles.

true, but in our defense, most of this shit isn't worth reading. i don't mean this to be flamebait, but it's bound to happen with any site who's content is primarily generated by users. there's a good chance, even with moderation, that a good number of the comments will be poorly written, perhaps with bad grammar, no thesis or common thought pattern, ignorant and/or completely wrong contect, or even written without capital letters! all of these things make reading comments painful and time-consuming.

of course that doesn't make the content useless, and there are always gems to be found, but it does excuse us for skim reading a lot of the content here on slashdot.

to stay on topic: as for Feed and Suck i didn't really like either site but i will miss Wednesday's Filler on Suck. any idea what "Polly Ester" will be doing in the future?

- j

Why Salon won't make it (2)

BrentN (90935) | more than 13 years ago | (#151425)

Quite frankly, Salon has degenerated into Tabloid.com. The quality of writing for Salon was never that great, on average, and their declining fortune has been mirrored by a similar decline in what little quality they had. I stopped reading Salon when I could no longer find any articles other than melodramatic neo-brainless-leftist drivel and insider views into the sex industry.

Has it not occurred to anyone that web magazines are failing simply because they're crap? Even Suck, long one of my favorite sites, had become boring. You see, their schtick became old, and no wonder - Mad Magazine had already worn it out by the mid 80's.

The real issue is not the corporatocracy per se. The suits at these media companies are not sitting around in the boardrooms dreaming up ways to destroy indie web media. The issue is that web magazines and journals are publishing crap in order to have content at all.

For a web magazine to succeed, they will have to publish consistently good material for quite some time (and do so on a shoestring budget) in order to prove to the world at large that they are capable of equal or better quality than "Big Media." Its harder than it looks.

Re:Two problems... (4)

joabj (91819) | more than 13 years ago | (#151426)

>Nobody debates that ads in magazines work,

Actually print ads don't really work either, but there's no micro-tracking mechanism (i.e. real life counterpart of "clickthru's") to prove this. What happens is only a very small number of people will act on a magazine's ad, but usually this is, more or less, enough to pay for the ad in the first place. Plus ads help with name recognition, so no action is even required. Evidently banner ads aren't held to the same standard.And 1% click-thru is considred a "failure." Uh-huh. How many ads have you seen in magazines that you actually acted upon (visited the car dealer, whatever)???

I suspect the real dirty secret is that its not that banner ads don't work, its just they show how badly ALL advertising works in general, at least in any sort of specific "see donut ad-->buy donut" way. But no ad agency will admit this, and very few companies w/ ad dollars want to admit this either, so there is this big consipiracy to keep shush about this so evryone who works in marketing and ad sales can keep their jobs. It's working, for now.

The second problem is that Suck, Feed, Slate, and Salon are all essay-centered reflective publications. Sorry, there's *never* been a big market for those. The real-life counterpart to to them (Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, The New Yorker) have *always* sold poorly too(around 200,000 each, actually). I don't see MSNBC or CNN.com going anywhere. ..

Nobody to blame... (1)

artemis67 (93453) | more than 13 years ago | (#151427)

but themselves.

Honestly...this is a free market economy. The MARKET (not "Big Media") decides who thrives and who dies. The real beauty of the internet is that anyone can launch their own word-of-mouth marketing campaign to build traffic. I mean, honestly, getting a write up on a site like Slashdot can do wonders; no doubt the traffic at Feed and Suck has spiked in the last week, and too bad for them that it was because of a story about their demise.

Actually, Feed is still hanging around, isn't it? Ok, so they've had their "Slashdot experience," will they continue to get a boost in traffic from it? More importantly, how are they changing to capture their target market?

Besides, with Dot Coms crashing to earth all around us, mostly because of poor business execution, is this really that big of a story? They're just one more Dot Com that couldn't figure out how to have fun AND make money.

Didn't Suck say at first that it was a "break"? (2)

brennan73 (94035) | more than 13 years ago | (#151429)

I thought Suck's original announcement said that it was a "break" for the summer. When I read that, I was kind of like, right, probably eventually a permanent break. But have they now confirmed that it's for good? If so, it's a damn shame, and when Salon dies I'm personally losing my favorite magazine, print or otherwise. -brennan

Revenue vs. costs as sites get popular (2)

brennan73 (94035) | more than 13 years ago | (#151430)

It seems to me that there's an interesting problem facing websites targeted at (potentially) large audiences; if the site is good, and gets popular, they're likely going to reach a point where meager ad/subscription revenues can't keep up with bandwidth costs. Are good sites going to be doomed by their own popularity? That kind of sucks to contemplate.

-brennan

Re:What a Load (2)

zpengo (99887) | more than 13 years ago | (#151432)

and in 14 minutes (assuming you saw the story the second it was posted) you read it a couple times, thought it over, formed/modified an opinion, and took the time to write a response? What a crock buddy

What, you can't read that in 14 minutes?

Re:What a Load (2)

zpengo (99887) | more than 13 years ago | (#151433)

true, but in our defense, most of this shit isn't worth reading. i don't mean this to be flamebait, but it's bound to happen with any site who's content is primarily generated by users. there's a good chance, even with moderation, that a good number of the comments will be poorly written, perhaps with bad grammar, no thesis or common thought pattern, ignorant and/or completely wrong contect, or even written without capital letters! all of these things make reading comments painful and time-consuming.

That's exactly the point. The fact that massive amounts of information are readily accessible has not improved our cognitive abilities, but hindered them; If we don't get immediate gratification, we search elsewhere. We no longer know how to sit and read something to get information out of it.

What a Load (5)

zpengo (99887) | more than 13 years ago | (#151434)

This has nothing to do with "Big Media." Newspapers, magazines, book publishers, etc., are all having the same problems -- we live in a society that is bored with reading.

You don't see blood, guns, t&a, tears, massive armies, explosions, sweat, smiles, or anything else when you read. You imagine them. Television and movies have rotted our brains enough that we are no longer capable of imagination; We simply watch. If it's not in front of us in living color, we can't understand it.

People don't "read" Slashdot. They skim it. Most people don't even really read the posts before they start writing replies, and don't even ask about clicking links to read off-site articles.

This has nothing to do with Big Media and everything to do with information apathy.

Re:Two problems... (1)

seitz (101815) | more than 13 years ago | (#151436)

re: Nobody debates that ads in magazines work

That doesn't mean they're correct in believing that such ads work.

Doc Searls [weblogs.com] writes occasionally about what would happen if your TV's mute button sent a message upstream, showing advertisers how few people were actually watching their ads. Perhaps no ad medium works (in general), but because the web is measurable, it's failure to work is proven. For instance, your "push" reference to magazines also makes traditional advertisers and media happy, because they all agree to talk about how many of those decisionmakers are reached with a magazine, ignoring the issues of (a) whether a given "target" opened the magazine, and (b) opened the particular page where that ad was, and (c) actually saw the ad.

In Russia, (1)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 13 years ago | (#151439)

the Government owns the media

In the US, a tiny few companies (10, now) own the media, and will also soon own the net media.

Feudalism or Communism, pick your poison.
========================
63,000 bugs in the code, 63,000 bugs,
ya get 1 whacked with a service pack,

Re:Two problems... (3)

demaria (122790) | more than 13 years ago | (#151442)

There's also the problem of rotational banner ads. Sure, it's good in some ways, not in other ways. For example, here I'm holding the latest copy of Network Computing (heh). Page 80, an ad for WhatsUpGold and a link to a free demo. This intersts me, but I want to look at it later. I can come back tomorrow, next week, a year later, and find the ad and the hyperlink.

Now reload just the slashdot page. You got a different ad. Sometimes I miss a banner ad, or click a link and then realize I want to see that banner ad, but the next page loads, and when you go back, the previous banner has rotated. And I've never seen a website have an "advertiser index" like so many magazines have.

i've got a plan (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 13 years ago | (#151444)

Offer online the intro to your content and a synopsis of the rest, and see how many people subscribe. Chances are, you won't get as many readers as if you offered everything for free, but you'd be getting SOME money, which has to be better than the ZERO money coming in from advertising. Just in case, offer some articles for free, just for YOU, our special potential customer. Works for IGN & DevX, at least it looks like it is. The net magazine isn't dying, it's just survival of the fittest... Some will die, some will adapt.

Peace,
Amit
ICQ 77863057

Other Factors (2)

VegeBrain (135543) | more than 13 years ago | (#151447)

I think this article would be more interesting if John Katz had looked at why we Americans don't mind that their media has the intellectual content of a noodle. I have a hard time attributing this attitude to a sort of brainwashing on the part of the media conglomerates.

What's wrong with we Americans that we act like the Meloi of H. G. Well's The Time Traveler? Why do we accept such a low intellectual level of public discourse? How is it that "professional wrestling" is even considered a sport?

I think questions like these need answering before we grumble about the big bad conglomerates. After all, they do give us what we want. If we want pablum, they'll give it to us.

Katz...quit your bitchin' (3)

clary (141424) | more than 13 years ago | (#151449)

This creates an odd new reality for media online. Individual voices have never been freer, more numerous or outspoken -- witness the rise of instant messaging and inward-looking p2p forums. But they've also never been more marginalized or insignificant.
If many people patronize and spend money on "big media" products, who cares? That must be what they want...or one could say that is what they deserve.

It is a simple mathematical fact many, many sources of media mean that most of them will not be viewed by a significant fraction of the viewers. So what? My mom and dad will never be remotely interested in Slashdot. They read their local newspapers and watch some network news. Are they being victimized by big media?

The good news here is still (for the time being, anyway) that people interested in almost any arcane topic can find information and opinion about it. When something threatens to shut down individual voices, then gripe away. But don't bitch because the masses don't appreciate your pet "elite" media outlet. The market does not owe you eyes for your favorite content.

Re:the subversion of democracy? (2)

Lozzer (141543) | more than 13 years ago | (#151450)

Why do Iranians and Guatamalans have contempt for the US?

On monday I watched a documentary on the history channel about the CIA in Iran. I don't know who bank-rolls the channel, but I'd reckon they aren't small.

The information is out there, its just that people don't seem actively interested in it

Sites like Slashdot killed sites like those... (2)

ellem (147712) | more than 13 years ago | (#151452)

a long time ago.

Suck was cool b/c they said the stuff you were thinking in a way you might say it. /. lets you do the talking.

Humans like that. Hell we'll even click on links and purchase little tiny stickers for a dollar. [thinkgeek.com]

Subsequently /. lives Suck doesn't.
---

Big Media has nothing to do with this (1)

GenChalupa (150051) | more than 13 years ago | (#151454)

Big Media will homogenize opinion, marginalize you and other smaller competitors and make it impossible for anyone else to compete or grow in the emerging Net AOL/Disney/Sony information economy.

"Big Media" has nothing to do with the proliferation of site deaths -- poor management does.

When you blow through millions of dollars, with minimal cash influx, you're going to run out of capital, and go out of business. That's not a conspiracy... it's called capitalism.

Suck.com was hardly popular anymore, and they haven't been for years. Why should they survive?

And if Salon.com can't stay in business, it's because they were proud members of the "no profit now, we want to spread our brand name!" approach. Employing 148 people to update a site with 2 articles a day is hardly good business sense. (Especially considering the fact that Jake Tapper writes half of them!)

Their "subscription" model was a joke, and has resorted to "erotic" images to grab a few Ivy League-level porn surfers who are above going to Google and typing in "naked ladies." And since half of their articles are available for free, why join? To read the "Bushed!" section that is essentially Hotline without the clever and abundent content? Or to read the "Sex" section with Q&As that can be found EVERYWHERE!?

Salon.com, while polished, was destined for failure because of poor management. Don't shed any tears for them, learn the lesson and try harder next time. Oh, and don't be afraid of "Big Media." When they can stop you from buying a domain name for 20 bucks and writing good content, then you can worry. People like Andrew Sullivan, Matt Drudge, and Harry Knowles are doing just fine, thank you, walking over Big Media all the way to the bank.

GenChalupa

Persistent Myths?? (2)

LISNews (150412) | more than 13 years ago | (#151455)

"One of the persistent myths about the Net has been that because it costs so little to publish online, and the technology makes it so simple, diversity can flourish in cyberspace no matter how big "Big" media gets. As we're learning, that isn't so."

That's not a myth! The Web is more diverse than ever. Yes, it's true some of the larger and older sites are dying, and more will continue, but really there are a million new small sites wainting to take their place. Becuase a few english majors making $110,000 a year got laid off doesn't mean a damn thing for diversity on the web.

SIZE != QUALITY when it comes to websites.

"Weblogs and blogs can be vibrant and fascinating. So can mailing lists and me-to-me-media media entities. But they don't reach significant numbers of people; "

Sure they do, ever heard of the slashdot effect?

Low barriers to entry ensure there are pleanty of sites waiting to jump in where suck, and maybe salon have failed.

Re:In Russia, (1)

captainober (153561) | more than 13 years ago | (#151456)

Which 10 companies? I thought it was far fewer. More like 4 or 5. Can't remember where I saw that...maybe PBS "Merchants of Cool".

the subversion of democracy? (4)

captainober (153561) | more than 13 years ago | (#151461)

James Madison and Alexander Hamilton harped on the necessity of an informed and active populous to drive democracy. With intelligent, public discourse reaching anemic levels in the US I can't help but be a bit uneasy. We haven't and are not taking the time to dial-in and figure out what the hell is happening. Why is the price of oil so high? Why are term limits riduculous and un-democratic? Why do Iranians and Guatamalans have contempt for the US? These questions are no longer even contemplated in the media (and worse, in the schools). So how can we make good decisions when its time to vote or, god forbid, protest? The answer is: We don't make good decisions - in fact many now chose no decision: Apathy. Moral indifference! That should have us worried. Corporations don't answer to people like governments potentially do/could. Don't give me that shareholders arguement either - it doesn't hold up! Now our opinions are shaped by corporate interests, with an agenda, and no accountability. Could this be a problem? huh, me thinks maybe. (longest post ever)

Follow the money (1)

kawlyn (154590) | more than 13 years ago | (#151462)

I wonder if Mr. Katz own any mutual funds?

Why? Well lets follow the money. Large corperations are in buisness to make money. That's a given. These buisness's have investors,individual stock holders and big corperate investors like mutual funds.

We all want to retire and buy a cabin and spend the rest of our day making finshing fly, writing novels, debugging print drivers or what ever.. But we need money to do that. So we invest in mutual fund, we have RRSP's or 401k's or what ever.

The problem with big profit driven corporations doesn't lie with the corporations it lies with us. We reward this behavior every time we deduct 10% of our pay cheque to put in out pension plan.

We're the real problem here and nobody seems to see that.

Jon, I'm sure you're upset (5)

yankeehack (163849) | more than 13 years ago | (#151464)

about Suck going under. For our amusement, google still has some commentary about you still cached [google.com] .

Re:Labors of love (1)

PopeAlien (164869) | more than 13 years ago | (#151465)

Yeah.. And Katz assumes that there is a finite source of 'small media' web zines etc, and that all 'Big media' has to do is buy them up.. Seems to me that the great thing about the Web is that anyone with a connection and an Idea can put something up..

So 'Big Media' is bigger. So what? It's always been that way, and it always will be. And there will also always be those of us that look for something a bit different than what 'Big Media' is offering.

Labors of love (2)

The Gline (173269) | more than 13 years ago | (#151467)

I think Katz is underestimating the longterm influence of homegrown zines and blogs. I know many people who don't even touch mainstream news anymore because of things like this. The big guys can get as big as they want, but that doesn't mean they are always going to be the last word on anything. Sometimes people want to get word out on something without a financial incentive. Don't tell me you get paid a lot for this...

Heavens No! (2)

LaNMaN2000 (173615) | more than 13 years ago | (#151468)

The real threat is that companies like AOL Time Warner and media outlets like MSN are already marginalizing, then eliminating lesser competitors by offering vast amounts of content and service to middle-class consumers at relatively low cost.

Heavens no! Now we have no choice but to receive lower priced content thanks to fair competition. I think we need to call in the National Gaurd.

Sarcasm aside, isn't this the goal of a free marketplace; companies that offer more to customers for less will survive while the rest will flounder. Though, I can see why a freelance content producer like Katz would object to consolidation and the lessening of demand for independent Internet content :-).

hypocritical and missing the point (5)

*weasel (174362) | more than 13 years ago | (#151470)

Are we going to fault everyone else besides ourselves for the decline in Net content? I mean, if a business' revenue is not sufficient to cover its costs (bandwidth mostly) - isn't that just a bad business? Does it matter what the content is? or who's backing it?

Is it really indicative of a state of our 'new' economy? If we can't produce content that people are willing to pay subscription fees for, or generate the audiences that advertisers are willing to pay to advertise too - then how exactly is that the fault of the conglomerates?

Perhaps Feed and Suck were too niche. Perhaps Salon just isn't all that great. Can you deny that they'd never have gotten half their time in the sun in paper and ink?

The Net has lowered the barrier of entry into the world economy - but it's even more ruthless on bad business. You can't succeed just because there's no competition in your area. All competition is everywhere. You have to provide the content that creates an audience that you can sell.

Demonizing the big businesses because a site 'suck'd and died is really quite childish.

online magazines are a business like any other. As an added advantage - the costs for an ezine roughly equate to exactly as many issues being printed as needed - so even if msnbc and cnn ate their audience - if they had decent content and a revenue stream then they'd be able to cover and cultivate the audience they kept.

who knows, in 5 years maybe we'll see that there is -no- market for content like salon, slate, or suck online. Perhaps their light-minded drivel is best suited for dead-tree editions you pick up for the flight and discard.

You can't blame the conglomerates for everything. The audience spoke and killed those zines. If people find content worth it - they'll pay. Perhaps when all the other zines dry up - and there's no other place to turn online to waste some time - a quality subscription site will spring up and flourish.

or not.


Suck no more (1)

ahem (174666) | more than 13 years ago | (#151471)

I just miss Polly.

Where are the web's comparative advantages? (1)

an_mo (175299) | more than 13 years ago | (#151472)

IMHO, this is where the net has a comparative advantage:

1) Mass-generated news sites such as Plastic [plastic.com] or Slashdot (please pardon my karma whoring, but let's not underestimated the potential of such media, especially when the mass news media are concentrated in the hands of a few corporations.
2) Zines with such a narrow audience that it is not cost efficient to publish on paper

If you aim to a nationwide audience then there are savings of publishing on the net, but there are costs of less ad revenues and smaller audience. People still prefer to read regular news on paper media.

Too true (2)

EnVisiCrypt (178985) | more than 13 years ago | (#151476)

I've been noodling on this for a while and it is disconcerting to me that these media outlets are shutting down or floundering.

The dearth of weblog content is an incredible outlet for relevant information on world events, often relayed by the very participants in the news. However, too often, the linking goes back to major media outlets or a subsidary of one a large corporation.

While even further "elite" discussion boards and content sites will flourish (uber [www.uber.nu] , A List Apart [alistapart.com] and Flak [flakmag.com] spring to mind), they lack the resources to disseminate their clever and unabashed content.

Publishing tools like blogger [blogger.com] make it easy for the non-technical user to publish their thoughts, witticism, and commentary to the web. It is only when these sites reach critical mass (Kottke.org [kottke.org] , Zeldman.com [zeldman.com] ) that it becomes hugely expense to continue relaying the message.

I see the future of independent content lying in the hands of smaller, more focused community sites (Metafilter [metafilter.com] , The Fray [fray.org] )

Despite their shortcomings, these sites are paving the way backwards to a smaller, more closely knit internet the way it was several years ago.

Suzie Homemaker and Joe Six-pack will continue to the media that's delivered to them, and the rest who desire the independent voice will seek it and should they not find it, they will create it as they always have.

Micropayments (2)

KjetilK (186133) | more than 13 years ago | (#151477)

I want to see micropayments Real Soon Now! I've written my bank to tell them to get working on micropayments Right Now. I would encourage everybody to do the same.

I would certainly pay Salon by micropayments if I had the chance. I think this is very, very important.

I wonder why the Common Markup for micropayment per-fee-links [w3.org] hasn't advanced to Candidate Recommendation...? It has two implementations allready, it should have been a Recommendation by now...

Re:The real reason Salon and Slate are failing (1)

ponxx (193567) | more than 13 years ago | (#151480)

> and poll after poll is showing that Americans
> are increasingly not interested in liberalism

no really... great observation skills there. For years I have been wondering where in the world the liberal establishment that controls the media/schools/government/unions/ etc. etc. actually is. For as long as I have had exposure to the US by living there for a while, having many friends there, travelling etc. I have been of the opinion that it is one of the, if not the most conservative of all western countries!

I think the reason liberal publications did well on the web in its early stages was due to the part of society with web-access in its early days: university students, most of them in sci/maths/CS courses. As web-access has become more representative of society (and english sites being targeted mainly at US-audiences), its contents has come a lot closer to the other media, which is decidedly more conservativ.

Though the good thing about the internet is that niches and communities can still thrive. Be it for techies, tree-huggers, feteshists, horse-breeders, creationists, minority religious groups, whatever really. If an opinion exists it will have its niche somewhere. Volunteer run community sites are the counter-part to big-media, and provide tons of information!

I think magazines can survive and do well, but they are probably better off being run as a hobby rather than a business! The one thing big business/big media has trouble competing with is people that aren't in it to make a profit! Which is the reason MS doesn't really know what to do about Linux :)

wait! (1)

benshutman (202482) | more than 13 years ago | (#151489)

I have an idea this time! Before you automatically start trashing this article, READ IT!! still dont like it? go into preferences and filter it out! that easy!


NEWS: cloning, genome, privacy, surveillance, and more! [silicongod.com]

hmm...so the fault lies... (1)

mmThe1 (213136) | more than 13 years ago | (#151492)

They couldn't drawn enough subscribers, or raise even a small amount of money. What does this mean? They were publishing for a broke-community? Or was that community not even bothered? Whatever be the case, the community doesn't get the magazine now. The publishers can publish it for themselves if they want. But to get the poor man publish for you requires a lot of money and encouragement.

revenue strategies (4)

ageitgey (216346) | more than 13 years ago | (#151495)

Automatic Media (owned Suck and Feed) was a business. The bottom line is that they have to have money to pay employees or they can no longer exist. So what kind of options does an online magazine have for funding?

Banners - These suck. The cpm's are falling every day. For whatever reason people aren't convinced they are worth paying much for. Also, half the time the banner company or advertiser doesn't pay the bill. An thus you can't pay your bills. There was a GREAT article on this on kuro5hin a while back where some people actually ran the numbers. It might be possible to make a profit with banners (slashdot), but it is very very hard. Most sites are lucky if they can pay for hosting with banners.

Subscription - Could be a viable idea. Too bad no one is subscribing. If you are a small professional publication like Suck, you have to compete with the conglomerates on the news side and the bloggers on the community side. Unfortunately, that leaves you stuck in the middle charging money while those you are competing with are giving away the content for free. What do you have to offer? Even sites that have rabidly loyal readers probably can't make this work. Why? Look at which real magazines sell well. Maxim? Stuff for Men (same company)? Generic woman's magazine? All those magazines are super-formulaic dribble targeted at the general population. Suck and Feed just don't appeal to most readers. Certainly not enough to make any real money. Look at me, I'm a total web addict and I didn't read either.

Micropayments - Am I the only one who thinks this is stupid? What successful business plan supports itself with tiny margins. How do you collect payments without spending more on the collection process? Ask anyone who's appeared on a talk show. It's more work than it's worth to cash some 8 cent checks you get from reruns. The only way this could work would be if a close system like PayPal let people have accounts and slushed micropayments around internally. But I still don't think it will work.

The balanced financial plan - We've taken a different approach. Our business plan doesn't require us to make any money. What we pay for hosting each month is about what I would spend on a meal at Wendy's. Add to that a slashdot-like submission system and our desire to write good articles about music for the fun of it and you have a system that works. We can never go out of business because we have almost no real costs. The worst thing that could happen is that we get bored. On the plus side, we don't have to display annoying standard banners or anything like that. Any money we make from affiliate type deals or short-term advertising contracts with specific businesses goes right into our pockets (and back into the site). IF people enjoy our content and site enough to want to pay for it or we grow large enough to attract some other sort of deal, fine. But we are happy now. I'd do it just for the free concert tickets.

Ok, so maybe I'm being negative. But the bottom line is that the mainstream press does a nice job of catering to the mainstream. The blog community caters to those who want an online community. Business-wise, there just isn't much room left. I say start the site because you care about what you are writing about. If a couple years down the road it becomes profitable, great.

They should've listened... (1)

briggsb (217215) | more than 13 years ago | (#151496)

...to roblimo [strom.com] about how to survive as a website. Running a website myself I found the article very informative, and if smaller sites plan on surviving this is a must read. The bottom line is the bottom line. Make money or die.

Re:Labors of love & Meanderings (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 13 years ago | (#151497)

A decade or so back and everyone thought AM radio was dead. Goofy plans to present Stereo AM came along, hoping to pump new life into the band, but talk radio shows for politics, sports and advice reinvented it and made it bigger than FM.

That there are people like Don Imus and Rush Limbaugh running in syndication, and doing quite well, suggests there is an appetite for other media opinions. Unlike radio, where a station manager may or may not carry a broadcast because it riles the sensibilities of listeners, the web is everywhere from, accessible to pretty much everyone (don't got a computer? check your library, school or community center) While web filtering may block some content, much opinion can still get through to those who persevere. (Do you ever wonder if Big Media is behind some of these filtering initiatives?)

Like TV, Magazines, Newspapers, the web also can be walked away from. I get most of my local news and discussion at the town watering hole (except on weekends when it's overrun by tourists, tho some bring news from their parts of the world and can be fun to talk to.)

This is a danger that much of the hacker universe has missed from the beginning.

I'm not sure what this actually has to do with hackers, since, by nature hackers converse through USENET, IRC, and other outlets. If any entity is successful in throttling USENET then hackers be afraid, very afraid.

--
All your .sig are belong to us!

"Profit" (1)

rexmob (225442) | more than 13 years ago | (#151498)

It's a bit dramatic to proclaim the demise of the Net magazine, but this may be an end to it in its current form. What these magazines need to do is turn a PROFIT. It's really quite simple; the idea, that is. Actually turning a profit on the Internet, of course, is much more difficult. But, there's no reason these intelligent online magazines can't adapt; maybe, like Jon says, they need to embrace interactivity more. Whatever it is, journalism is by no means dead on the Net.

conspiracy? nah. (1)

saintlupus (227599) | more than 13 years ago | (#151499)

Big Media will homogenize opinion, marginalize you and other smaller competitors and make it impossible for anyone else to compete or grow in the emerging Net AOL/Disney/Sony information economy.

while i do admit there is a significant "mcnugget" quality to american culture now (and please - i'm qualifying this as american because i have little to no experience in other countries and don't want to be too much of an Ugly American), i don't think that's what's killing online magazines.

after all, what's killing them is a lack of funds, right? computers and bandwidth and even the clueless monkeys most of them call writers all cost cash. it's not a big illuminati plot or anything. they're just not producing something people are willing to pay for.

is it because, unlike Time magazine, paying to read Suck or Slate doesn't give you anything material? maybe. is it because people just don't like the hip gen x messenger bag style of most of these sites? maybe. is it because the market for ad banners has fallen through the floor and crushed the furnace? possibly. but i doubt it has a whole lot to do with aol/tw execs chuckling in dark rooms about their great plan to take out salon.

your corporate republic shite is usually a lot closer to the mark than this.

--saint
----

Webzines that *DO* work (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 13 years ago | (#151500)

iplayoutside [iplayoutside.com] is very successful. I do not know their revenue model, but my guess is that they get a cut of some of the entry fees from the races they cover. They do an INCREDIBLE job of announcing events, and then covering them.

They have pictures up usually THE NEXT DAY! Promoters LOVE this, so they are happy to send some of the racers' registration to iplayoutside. Race coverage is up in a couple of days in most cases.

They provided the servers, an RF Scan-Badge system, and even an 802.11 wireless network for EVERYONE TO USE (Waaaaaaaaaay cool!) at the 24 hours of snowshoe. This system posted results to the web IN REAL TIME as we raced.

The way to make money on an informational website is to do it the way iplayoutside does. You provide a specialized service that people will pay for. Since the racers are already paying an entrance fee for the event, part of that goes to the web-wizards at iplayoutside for the coverage. It's beautiful! Such a perfect system and it WORKS.

small web blogs, cant make money (2)

i4u (234028) | more than 13 years ago | (#151501)

I run a technology news site. I dont make money with it, i loose money (hosting costs). there was a great article on that on somethingawful http://www.somethingawful.com/features/stateofthei nternet/ Its sometimes hard to stay motivated if traffic is not increasing. I guess thats a problem of many small web blogs. There is no return of investment, especially these days. Its still fun, but it would be more fun to reach more and more people and at least break even.
Plug: http://www.i4u.com

Re:Two problems... (1)

stuporg (236493) | more than 13 years ago | (#151502)

You don't have to go check for the magazine, it comes to you when it's ready. It says, essentially, "Hey, I'm here...time to read me!" On the other hand, websites are not that way, with the singular exception of whichever site is set as your default page in your browser.

And this statement brings up one of the main reason I still prefer regular magazines...PORTABILITY!

How the heck am I supposed to read Salon in the john^H^H^H^Hlibrary? Sure I could take a laptop with me, but then I can just see trying to get my boss to spring for network jacks (or wireless!) in the stalls...

Re:the subversion of democracy? (1)

puckhead (241973) | more than 13 years ago | (#151503)

Are we to assume that your post was shaped by corporate interests?

Change tactics or die! (1)

Dallas Truax (242176) | more than 13 years ago | (#151504)

I notice there are not a lot of comments posted on this Katz article. This is unusual in the extream. Could it be that no one wants to admit that the net isn't the freedom sword everyone hoped it would be?

Change tactics. On-line magazines could be successful, it's just that passivly posting a web page and hoping that someone comes to read it doesn't work.
Hope is not a valid magagement strategy.
That's the lesson here.

Big Media = Name recognition (1)

roberto0 (242247) | more than 13 years ago | (#151505)

The reason why Big Media wins on the net is the same reason they win in the real world: they have the name.

Feed and Suck were popular with net aficionados from the beginning, but you know the story as well as I do: Mom and Pop AOL user just don't know where to go and what to do on the net, so they look for what they know, and they follow the links from their portals until they land somewhere familiar and comfortable.
And of course, Big Media has the infrastructure to support excellent sites and constantly update them with relevant information.

You know what happens to a good party when too many people show up. It's no longer a private affair in a controlled environment. The forces of nature (and in this case economics) are at work and the big guys always win.

Egads... (2)

RareHeintz (244414) | more than 13 years ago | (#151508)

This article doesn't do shit to support the idea that alternative media are dead. It makes half a case (and a decent half) that it's hard to make money at it.

It also ignores not-for-profit personal pages and blogs, user-moderated news sites like /. and K5, and other organically-grown phenomena have.

And perhaps that's the key: Suck, Feed, etc. set out to make a profit. Maybe that's the wrong way: Maybe, like hotornot.com [hotornot.com] , you have to come up with a good idea over beers, and it has to take off on its own before you move to a profit model.

Anyway, that's my US$2e-2 on how to kill big media - it's not going to be Wired or Suck, but hotornot.com that does it.

OK,
- B
--

Usenet & mailing lists are not about to disappear (3)

plcurechax (247883) | more than 13 years ago | (#151509)

I don't see Usenet (personal favourate comp.risks [comp.risks] ) or well run mailing lists (say Interesting People [interesting-people.org] ) disappearing any time soon.

The mistake Jon Katz (and Salon, Suck, etc) makes is the thinking "new media" will look similar to old media. New media is different. Just as print media is different from broadcast media.

It is pretty ironic for this Jon Katz spiel to be posted to a true "New Media" site like Slashdot, which couldn't exist in traditional medias, yet seems to continue without too much worry AFAIK of running out of money.

It would silly to wonder why a radio station that only updated their news once a day, like newspapers did, why they would be driven out of business; they are working within a different system with different capabilities and their competitors will embrace those advantages.

Join the Cluetrain [cluetrain.com] .

It's Always Sumthin' fer Nuthin' (4)

CrazyLegs (257161) | more than 13 years ago | (#151512)

Big Media...ya right. The problem with Suck and every other high-quality failure is revenues! Until someone figures out a way to make advertising 'pay' on the Web, this scenario is destined to repeat itself. Like traditional media, advertising dollars pay the rent - not subscription fees. If Time magazine or your local newspaper tried to fund itself via subscription fees, the huge sucking sound you'd hear would by customers running for the door. The Web is no different.

No matter how good the content, it's getting tougher to find advertisers willing to put a ton of dough into Website sponsorships. Lots of top-notch writing and lots of top-notch web design costs money. Sure there are e-zines out there running on a shoestring, but they are largely aimed at small niche communities and run by volunteer labour (or at least eschew profit-making).

Advertising on the Web is inherently difficult. In printed media (for example) the advertisment is going to sit on the page until you're done reading the page. This paradigm does not hold too much water in the electonic format. So until there is a compelling advertising model and supporting technology for the Web, professionally-produced 'magazine' content will be difficult to keep alive.

Have to love the conspiracy theories (1)

compass46 (259596) | more than 13 years ago | (#151514)

"This has got to be some type of conservative plot to restrict free-thinking attitudes," Plastic contributor Star Freed wrote in the site's chat area earlier this week. "I'm sure of it."

I think it is kind of funny how many conservatives would see big media as a liberal plot to restrict free-thinking attitudes. Just makes me wonder who or what is in charge. Are we all fighting the wrong enemy in blaming the left or the right?

Two problems... (5)

Shoten (260439) | more than 13 years ago | (#151516)

Part of the problem with the entire business model around online magazines has to do with advertising. Nobody debates that ads in magazines work, and those ads make up a significant part of revenue for the publishers. That's also why high-end geeks in influential positions get enough offers for free magazines that if they fill out all the forms they'd have enough paper to burn through a cold winter in Alaska and still stay warm. Simply put, the magazine can point to "x number of readers who make influential decisions" and thereby lure advertisers.

The other part of the problem is that a standard magazine uses a "push" method of distribution. You don't have to go check for the magazine, it comes to you when it's ready. It says, essentially, "Hey, I'm here...time to read me!" On the other hand, websites are not that way, with the singular exception of whichever site is set as your default page in your browser. Yes, you may have a few you check every day, but how many are you really going to want to have to remember?

What did folk expect (2)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 13 years ago | (#151519)

It is sad to see so many titles go down, however the good news is that the advertising business model is viable, the problem is that the business plans that believed the advertizing base would grow fast enough were not.

The Web will still change the media world, it will just take fifteen or twenty years rather than the six months the 'Internet time' cretins blathered about.

Changing peoples way of life takes time, live with it.

Re:New Media = Narcissism (3)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 13 years ago | (#151521)

"New Media" is the term that people (dare I say like yourself) came up with to describe the Internet. They did this because they were initially unable to comprehend the aspects of it that were not directly analagous to their world.

Untrue on both counts. The term 'New Media' was coined to get people consulting gigs. The people who actually invented the Internet and the Web knew what they were doing all along. The people who had zero clue were the analysts and journalists who spent their time interviewing each other and bilging out puff pieces about 'internet time'. Nine years on and the Web is still a work in progress, so what was that 'internet time' they were talking about?

Most people talking about new media were talking about two things, interactivity and a different cost structure to print or TV. Interactivity is what brings people to Slashdot. Newspapers have always had letters pages, but online forums take the concept much further.

The difference in the cost structure online vs print is dramatic. If you don't have to pay for the content, publishing becomes close to free. If you are a government you can probably save money by putting documents online rather than printing them.

Where people's expectations failed was when they fooled themselves into thinking that new media would lead to new media empires. I don't believe that was ever going to happen and if it did what does it benefit anyone if an old media conglomerate like Time-Warner is replaced by a new media conglomerate like AOL?

We always thought that online new media would be small scale mom 'n pop type stuff with a few medium sized outfits (which it is mainly, look at the prOn sites). When the new media companies started to employ staffs of 100+ the writing was on the wall.

Re:The real reason Salon and Slate are failing (1)

Consultant Jon (265243) | more than 13 years ago | (#151523)

their failures have nothing to do their ideology and everything to do with the fact that banner ads just don't support a website unless they're porn ads.

But this is easily falsifiable. I've already mentioned WorldNetDaily, a publication that finances itself through banner ads. I read the site hourly to make sure that I am informed on what is going on in the world, and I can guarantee you that I have never seen a "porn ad." Not once. So your statement that banner ads can't support a website has been dealt with and dimissed.

I think what you mean to say is that banner ads can support a site if there are enough page views. You get page views by having scintillating content. You get them by publishing things that people want to read. People should not be surprised that they cannot generate page views with the horrors of liberalism! WorldNetDaily succeeds because there is a large audience of people who do not want their news sanitized for them, people who want the honest truth about the socialist and homosexual communities. The audience for the type of material served up by Salon, on the other hand, has dwindled into nothingness.

The real reason Salon and Slate are failing (2)

Consultant Jon (265243) | more than 13 years ago | (#151524)

The primary reason that Salon and Slate and other "Web magazines" is not that there is something inherently wrong with the format. The problem is that people are starting to reject the content. Salon and Slate are well-known unapologetic mouthpieces of the liberal left, and poll after poll is showing that Americans are increasingly not interested in liberalism. With conservatives running the show in Washington, the country is beginning to gravitate back towards its moral roots. The few Americans that do admit to liberalism are not even close to the number that would be required to keep Salon afloat (through ad revenue or any other means.) If you have no readers, you cannot possibly succeed.

Take a look at WorldNetDaily [worldnetdaily.com] , a popular mainstream news outlet/magazine. WND is consistently voted the best site on the Web, and is going strong even as leftist sites crumble down around it. The point is that Web journalism is alive and well (and in fact, doing better than it ever has done before.) The fact that some of the old standbys are dying out is just a natural part of information evolution; it is the wheat being separated from the chaff.

teaching Jon Katz to do math. (1)

nanojath (265940) | more than 13 years ago | (#151525)

1. Start with a marginal point of view that is not widely recognized or embraced.

2. Create a media entity to espouse this point of view.

3. Discover that you can not match the power, scope or reach of organizations that present mainstream, broadly embraced points of view.

4. Blame the corporate policies of those organizations (crafting a product that appeals across a very broad base of consumers) for the failure of your media enterprise to attract a broad base of consumers.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have a spare minute for most mainstream media. But nobody puts a gun to anyone's head and makes them buy a copy of Details. Not one of the 30 million idiots watching Survivor was strapped down in their easy chairs with clockwork orange clips holding their eyes open. Mainstream media has a singular goal and mission and that is to make a select group of people rich. This essay's whining pessimism does not contribute an iota of help or good advice as to how to succesfully make media in a different way (and it also doesn't provide much of a justification for why anyone should bother... If Katz is pining for a world where you could get a magazine full of essays like this... well, I imagine someone could pick up something of that variety in the flaming depths of HELL).

I don't necessarily have any answers either, but here's at least a few rational starting points:

1. If you want to present a more marginal point of view you have to give up, at least at the onset, on having mainstream level success. This is simple math. If you are not producing what people are accustomed to consuming, you have to expect a longer and harder path to an ultimately more modest destination.

2. If you want to eventually acheive success on the order of magnitude of mainstream media, you are going to have to aggresively lobby for new consumers and somehow convince them to give your "weird" viewpoint some of their time. That means it has to be entertaining, accessible, created in a style that appeals over a broader range of intellects and educations, and doesn't immediately attack or insult people who do not yet necessarily see your point yet.

3. You have to accept, connect and foster your natural community. The real question of this problem is, how do you stop preaching to the choir and get a broader audience? It isn't easy, and paradoxically, you have to first make sure you are taking advantage of AND taking care of the audience you can naturally get - people that share your viewpoint. Slashdot succeeds for this reason, and yet it attracts a lot of marginal types like me - a lapsed chemist who hasn't programmed a computer since 1992. How? By having a big enough basis of support in its core users (computer nerds and open source types) to have acheived the financial backing sufficent to present a broader viewpoint that appeals to a bigger crowd.

We need to stop whining about big business and realize that there is only one remedy, which is sucessfully selling the alternative in the common market. There is no legislation, no magic technology that will make rich people stop wanting to get richer. They are not the problem. We, the majority, work for them, buy from them, and vote for the politicians bought by them, and for that we have noone to blame but ourselves. Now, certainly the working family of four teetering on the poverty line is hard pressed to find the time and resources to "fight the power." But if you own a computer and have enough free time to read a Jon Katz essay and a crazy long response like this...

Then you have enough resources to change the world. So quit whining about the big bully that's stealing your lunch and go learn some kung fu.

Built to Flip, not to last (1)

gentlewizard (300741) | more than 13 years ago | (#151531)

The Monday morning quarterbacking on the dotcom shakeout seems to be that the dotcoms were actually more like venture-capital backed R&D labs for the large brick & mortar companies, who are now positioned for the second wave of Internet development. Could the "new media" be the same thing for the old line media companies?

I think the big mistake of both the dotcoms and the new media companies was in assuming that the Internet does indeed change everything. It changes the technology, but the wants and needs of the consumer probably haven't changed that much. We all want (in a Maslovian hierarchy sort of way) safety/security, belonging, relationship, and eventually meaning. Most of us couldn't care less how we get those things or what technology is used.

The New Economy and the New Media both focused 'way too much on the technologies and processes being used, and not enough on the purpose or result. Now they're toast, but the older companies will learn what not to do and will continue going about trying to deliver products and services at a profit.

Re:Labors of love (1)

cavemanf16 (303184) | more than 13 years ago | (#151533)

The thing I like about the 'Net is that you can find all the info you want on specialty interests. www.dsm.org [dsm.org] is a great resource for me, and all the other Eclipse/Talon/Laser owners of the world that want to learn more about their cars. Obviously, this site does NOT appeal to the masses, and is operated as a 'labor of love.'

I agree with you about Big Media. They will buy up their online competitors, if there competitors are stealing some of their profit. So what? Online, this shouldn't matter, because like you say, someone else can always put up their own info and do it for free. Or if they own a profitable site, don't take it public trying to make bajillions of dollars, and it will remain yours for all time, to do whatever you wish with it.

thoughts on subscribing (1)

donky (306139) | more than 13 years ago | (#151536)

The big failure of the subscription model of sites that I like reading in appealing to me is that I have no real stake in helping them survive. There is always this blank facade that gives no real sense of the importance of my subscription to them, or their need.

I was thinking that if they publicised their costs and their income and showed exactly how subscription was making a difference, then I would be encouraged to subscribe myself. Even if they weren't in need of the subscription, I feel that I would still subscribe with this information - given the level of my interest in the site.

Re:Speaking of demise... (1)

Win-Developer (316016) | more than 13 years ago | (#151538)

Hahaha... Their Stock options are in the toilet!!! HAHA all that is in the money are the PUTS!!! What a waste. That is why no Linux company(at the moment) should be public and trading on the market, there just isn't any money in trading Linux Stock.

Who? (1)

JiffyPop (318506) | more than 13 years ago | (#151539)

Am I the only person reading this that has no idea who Feed and Suck are (or were...)? By the sound of it I would have enjoyed reading them, but I had no way to learn of their existance besides word of mouth. And lets face it, word of mouth is a pretty lousy way to advertise yourself on the internet. And maybe I missed something, but I still haven't heard anything about what happened to segfault.org... they dropped offline more than a week ago.

An old adage adapted for a new world (4)

Spamalamadingdong (323207) | more than 13 years ago | (#151540)

When the only tool you have to sell is a hammer, you describe every problem like a nail.
--

Shut up already Katz! (1)

Srsen (413456) | more than 13 years ago | (#151547)

I think it was Winston Churchill who said that a fanatic is someone who can't change his mind and won't change the subject. That fits Jon Katz to a tee. He sees manipulation of the (always helpless) individual mind everywhere by any (always evil) corporation with more than 100 employees. Apparently, business success automatically makes you a threat to civilization itself. His analyses of relatively small events like the closure of these very small businesses (most small businesses of any kind do fail, Mr. Katz) begin with his preconceptions of corporate evil and conveniently ignore more relevant facts like lack of revenues. Get a grip on reality!

Marginalized alternative media (1)

danablankenhorn (415290) | more than 13 years ago | (#151548)

Journalists work for publishers, and when publishers go out of business journalists feel it in their guts.

I can understand where Jon is coming from. (He didn't mention VA Linux, Slashdot's troubled parent, in his analysis but I suspect it hangs heavy with him.) But I can't agree with his conclusions.

The fact is Feed, Suck, Slate and Salon have no real business model. They don't know who their readers are -- they just throw out content. That's not publishing, that's printing.

Print publishers are winning right now because printed magazines know who their audiences are. They can describe to advertisers the branding impact of their ads. Very few online publications can do this, and the reason is that few had the business discipline to go out and learn it.

There will be a second generation. There is just too much potential in this medium for it to be any other way. But the second generation will be run by professionals, people who understand the nature of publishing, who know who their readers are and who organize and advocate a market or lifestyle.

Feed and suck did none of these things. They deserve to die.

Nice article, but it needs something... (1)

Supa Mentat (415750) | more than 13 years ago | (#151549)

I know! Evidence to back up its claims! I hate big media as much as the next guy but Katz never did give a good example of a big media corp killing off a new media effort. All he does do is offer an utterly depressing and abismal look at the US. Oooh, now there's something that takes skill and wit.

No conspiracy here, just business as usual... (1)

BadElf (448282) | more than 13 years ago | (#151552)

Whether or not "big media" gets it is almost a moot point. These companies got to be big for one reason ... they succesfully attracted large numbers of eyeballs to their publications and kept those eyeballs coming back. So how did they do it?

First off, these companies are mass media outlets. Their products are specifically designed and tailored to generate mass appeal -- in other words, their goal is to please the masses . And more precisely, to profit from them. They figured out a long time ago that real journalism doesn't pay the bills. Sensationalism, bias, and easily digestable sound bites are what the general public wants, and there are a lot more eyeballs belonging to the general public than any "elitist" group I've ever heard of.

But it doesn't end there. Suck and Feed went belly-up because society as a whole (the unwashed masses, if you will) are relatively stupid and easily manipulated. People don't want to have to form opinions of their own based on reported facts. They want to be told how their favorite anchor/reporter/celebrity feels about something so they can feel the same way. And that's what big media is best at -- convincing people that the guy or gal on the screen with the really nice hair and teeth shares the audience's views and concerns. Anyone in the audience who doesn't agree must have something wrong with them.

There's no conspiracy here. Just business. Choose the largest common denominators of the general public -- language, vocabulary, likes and dislikes -- then add money and easy access. Presto-change-o, instant success.

Damn Neo-NAZIs... (1)

Pet_Targ (449857) | more than 13 years ago | (#151554)

Dammit man, don't you know? All the Jews are going to Israel!! Get a clue.

Internet Ads (1)

Johnny5000 (451029) | more than 13 years ago | (#151556)

A reason why the click-through measure of internet advertising isnt accurate is that the purpose of advertising has never been to create an immediate sale. It's to convince us that we need the product being sold, and that we need the specific brand that is being advertised.

When I go to the store, instead of buying the generic cheesy poofs, I need to buy Cheeztastic Cheezariffics because they're the Chee-Z-est.
So they get the extra dollar or two, so they can pay for more ads and fancy packaging. Even if it is the same product as the cheap stuff.

It's about a selling a way of life, of overconsuption, of consumerism.

This is the point that the internet ads fail to consider. It's not about who will click on the advertised website immediately. Honestly, it doesnt matter if the ads are links or not. They'd be more effective if they were considered online billboards, where you put the name of the product (not even necesarily a website) in someone's head. I mean, who wants to go to the Cheezatastic Cheezariffics website anyway? We've already seen the ad. What would matter is if the next time we go to the store, we've been sufficiently brainwashed with the superiority of Cheez-etc's over the crappy rival brand.

And besides, the internet isnt the shopping mall cash cow that all e-businesses wish it was. Why not? Because people dont want to pay for things on the internet. Especially since if you look hard enough, you'll be able to find what you're looking for, for free.

Sure, I'll use the internet to buy certain things, but only if it is cheaper

It's really a shame though that the independent media websites are folding. However, its not like the internet holds the monopoly on independent media. Personally, I prefer to read a hard copy of that stuff, but I'm just old fashioned like that :]

-Johnny5000

p.s. 1/7 of all money spent in the US is on advertising.

p.p.s. I liked it better when the generic products were in the big blank and white containers and said 'no frills', instead of now how they try to look like the name-brand product.. as if that ever fooled anyone into buying Cheepios in the big yellow box instead of Cheerios.

p.p.p.s. All this talk about food. I must be hungry.

Re:hmm...so the fault lies... (1)

codeforprofit2 (457961) | more than 13 years ago | (#151564)

The online community has been getting used to not paying for anything.

And that is a really big problem now then the venture capital is gone.

Re:Micropayments (1)

codeforprofit2 (457961) | more than 13 years ago | (#151565)

Couldn't agree more.

It is nice to get things for free but in the end it always comes down to the fact that the people producing it must get paid in order to survive.

Same goes for software.

Quote from va systems quarterlyreport June 11,2001 (2)

codeforprofit2 (457961) | more than 13 years ago | (#151567)

"We do not expect to generate sufficient revenues to achieve profitability and, therefore, we expect to continue to incur net losses for at least the foreseeable future. If we do achieve profitability, we may not be able to sustain it. Failure to become and remain profitable may materially and adversely affect the market price of our common stock and our ability to raise capital and continue operations."

Anyone else finds this alarming?

The problem the online community and the worst open source fanatics have is that they simply fail to understand the simple fact that companies _and_ the people who work there must make money in order to be able to pay their bills.

It's just as simple as that. It's nice to get things for free but a healthy economy can never be built on sharing (ask the former communist countries).

I'm all for online communities and magazines. I'm also all for open source (as in getting the source to software you use). But PAYMENT must be included in all those business models.

If you run online magazines request that the banks hurry up in the development of micropayments.

If you develop open source software. Request money for it's END USE but let people do whatever they want with it otherwise.

Bullshit! (5)

codeforprofit2 (457961) | more than 13 years ago | (#151568)

"Many in the geek and hacker universe have arrogantly underestimated Big Media as being both toothless and clueless. "

Ehhh? What?

WFT are you talking about, it certainly isn't "Big Medias" fault!

The one and only problem here is that THEY DON'T MAKE MONEY. End of story!

The very same problem the open source companies have out there. Companies (and their employees) must make money to survive, welcome to reality!

I Love This. (1)

gizmo2199 (458329) | more than 13 years ago | (#151571)

I just love posts like this. When the "go'rnement" passes laws that might hinder, in the slightest, freedom of speech, or when the evil and malicious FBI does thier job it's high time to grab your guns and head for them there hills to defend your rights, but when Giant Conglomo Corp Inc. does the same thing you call it capitalism. God bless the Free Market, can I hear an amen. In short the conglomo can't restrain your thinking and freedom of speech fast enogh for you, it's only natural for them to destroy their competition after all, if the governemnt even touches your precious and holy cracking rights it's time for the revolution. First thing we do--kill all the politicians.

Re:Bullshite, not a Troll but Economic Perspective (1)

Self-Important (460103) | more than 13 years ago | (#151573)

I second that emotion. That phrase really bothered me, too. The fact is, most people aren't so freaking geeky and fashionably counter-culturalistic as to value an independent information source that publishes all of its material online over the tried and true sources that deliver information in traditional ways, namely television, radio, and newspapers.

Its not somehow "Big Media's" fault that there is an almost insurmountable barrier to entry in the television and newspaper markets in the form of prohibitive startup costs. It's the way things are, Katz. Transmitters and printing machines cost a lot more money than a web server and underpaid staff, even though you argue(?) something to the contrary.

Another thing that struck me as the writing of an uninformed madman was this phrase:

"As 'Feed' and 'Suck', two of the smarter, more attitudinal publications of the Net's first generation, vanish, they will not be replaced by similar kinds of publications."

Obviously, the people who are not you, that is, those people who influence markets based on their browsing habits rather than their ability to invent and then spin a story, decided that 'Feed' and 'Suck' (an amusing description of the evolutionary path that many information startups seem to follow) just weren't "smart" and "attitudinal" enough to warrant their attention. Ceteris Paribus, 'Feed' and 'Suck' don't get the hits, advertising revenue, and acclaim afforded other dot.com information sources in a competing marketplace. Again, this is not a conspiracy perpetrated by Big Media. It's simply the way things are.

Same as usual, this cat(z) produces a story from his posterior that's designed to play into the collective Brave New World monopoly fear of the Slashdot crowd.

Sorry Katz, but you will not pursuade me with blatant attempts at rhetoric used to buttress unfounded opinion. Take it from another writer, that's the sign of a bad one.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?