November 8, 2011
I used to edit online magazines and web sites.
One of them was part of a very popular technology network. We didn’t have much of a budget but we paid a little bit for articles and the editors of the various sites tended to be very good and plugged into the needs of their technologies so they knew what topics and authors to pursue.
Articles were signed, written, edited, rewritten, and then passed over to a copy editor and graphic designer and producer to put the finishing touches on them.
At some point revenues dropped a bit and someone well above my manager’s level decided that the thing to do was to cut costs. Ironically, a keynote speaker at a conference they were hosting had just explained that you can’t save a business by cutting the bottom line—you must work to increase your top line.
So they started paying authors a little less and a little less until one day they decided that they could just find bloggers to produce the content for them for free. The bloggers would get the prestige of publishing on this high visibility site and the site would get the content of these well known authors.
This was the early days of blogging. In those days, if someone wanted to read your blog, they generally didn’t subscribe, they navigated to the website you published on and looked for your latest.
Soon the tools for writing and hosting and discovering and consuming blogs improved to the point that the well-known bloggers decided to just publish their own blogs on their own sites. They weren’t getting anything out of the publisher really.
And so they did. The web sites withered. The bottom line was cut more and more. The web sites died.
Maybe it was time for them to die. I don’t know. I really value a well run website with strong editorial direction. The editor is filtering the site so I don’t have to spend a lot of time wading through noise. I don’t need to agree with the editorial stance to benefit from it. I need to understand the editorial biases of a particular site.
Yes. This is going somewhere.