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February 27, 2014

Must Read Open Thread

Maet mentioned this on the ONT a couple nights ago, but this was a very good catch by Prof. Jacobson over at Legal Insurrection, so I wanted to highlight it again. Read the whole thing.

Iím not old enough to remember Tulipomania, but I am old enough to remember the inflation-readjusted real estate crash of the 1980s, the eyeballs-to-price ratios of the 1990′s tech bubble, and the no-money-down no-income-verification mortages of this centuryís first decade.

...

New paradigm. Hmmm. Where have I heard that recently? (emphasis added)

>>>But as the Polk [Award] judges rightly recognized, Greenwald meets the definition of journalist Ė joining the long line of reporters who have broken accurate stories after sifting classified documents purloined by whistle-blowers. And heís still working the Snowden material, as evidenced this morning on The Intercept, the new online magazine bankrolled by eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar. Greenwald has decided to hang his digital shingle on that site. In a revolutionary era of new journalistic paradigms, who needs the old media?

Journalists should play an important role in exposing bubbles before they get too big.

But what if the journalists are the bubble?

This is a great question.

Regarding Ezra Klein specifically, I was always a little curious as to why so many in the media were surprised by the Washington Post's decision to let him go. The numbers never matched up. Many were impressed by WonkBlog's roughly 4 million pageviews per month. Well, okay. But, how much of that traffic was based off the very strong lead in from a major American publication? There's no way for us to tell what percentage of that traffic came from all that marketing and cross-promotion, but I'd bet it's a non-trivial amount.

For the sake of argument, let's say it's zero. Let's say Ezra could pick up his operation and start elsewhere (as he is basically doing). So take that 4 million pageviews a month and move it. Ezra reportedly wanted a staff of more than 30 and an annual budget of $10 million.

So do the math. At $10 RPM (revenue per thousand impressions), which many said was an ambitious goal, his site would only be making $40,000 a month. This is orders of magnitude away from reality, and why Jeff Bezos likely bit his tongue laughing at Ezra's proposal.

How many of these millionaire pet projects are going to continue to be around five or ten years from now? You have to wonder. It's often hard to tell, but traditional publications still need to turn a profit.

Also, open thread.


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posted by JohnE. at 08:20 PM

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