Friday, August 26, 2005

Standalone journalism and the small niche

Now here's something interesting -- a blog dedicated to covering a single company. (Thanks to Steve Rubel for pointing it out.)
I've been warning B2B publishers for awhile that their biggest competitive threat comes from their own staff and sources. The tools of citizen journalism allow anyone to be a publisher at next-to-no cost. And it's inevitable that talented people will emerge with compelling products to steal readers and advertisers from traditional B2B offerings.
I'll even go so far as to make this prediction -- we will soon see a slew of standalone, online, B2B publications being run by recently retired journalists. Those folks who have been working in your newsroom for 10, 20 or 30 years will no longer have to surrender a lifetime of industry knowledge when they walk out your door. Veteran reporters have always had value; now they can monetize that value themselves.
If you're a publisher, ask yourself honestly, what's to stop someone from your editorial staff from starting a product like the one above? Or one like this?

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  1. I'm curious to know if this fellow makes enough from ad revenue to support himself.

    Even if he doesn't, I agree with your future vision of standalone journalists. I could see them making a living from Web ad revenues, plus consulting/speaking work that might arise from expertise on a narrow subject.

  2. Hi Matt,
    I'd love to know how much he's making too. There's some interesting information about him (although no profit figures) in PRweek magazine, which reports that his Netflix site had 60,000 unique visitors in February and over 100,000 hits." He says he has begun to "generate significant revenue."
    Details are here:

  3. Yes, I think I also saw in the article he had over 1 million page views since he started it.

    I don't know much about online advertising, but it seems that services like Google's Adwords and Adsense could automate much of the advertising process, freeing up the standalone journalist to focus on editorial instead of worrying about where the money's going to come from.

  4. Perhaps even a group of these standalone journalists could collaborate in some sort of loose cooperative, sharing office space, contacts, information, etc...

    The cooperative could be based on a model that some writers in San Francisco have established. See link for more.

  5. You're exactly right, Matt.
    Just like blogging software means a journalist can work without a publisher, the new advertising programs mean a journalist can work without an advertising department.
    As for the's an interesting idea. I haven't seen such a 'writer's room" concept used by journalists. But that doesn't mean it wouldn't work. (BTW...the best thing about the Grotto is that they work from the former "Dog and Cat Hospital." I love the way that place looks.)

  6. I think that journalists can find some real danger in letting their ego and desire for independence get the best of them. Chris Garrett has some thoughts about unrealistic expectations that independent journalists/bloggers can have.

    Many writers that I have known have a passion for writing, a passion for journalism, and a passion for knowledge that does not include any passion for business or selling. To assume that people can take their talent from a larger infrastructure and still pay the bills, may be assuming too much. That said, I do feel that you may see more blog moonlighting going on, as writers pursue their interests free from the business backbone, and stretch their legs a bit online.

    - Dan Blank