VIDEO LOSS

a blog about politics, the media, and culture by tom bunting, a Real Journalist

Crisis In Our Backyards

  • How Craigslist Killed The Newspaper
  • Local News Consolidation: Explained
  • A Brief History of How The Internet Changed Journalism
  • How The City Is Covering New York As a Nonprofit
  • Inside The Battle For Better Local News
Vice News Sells Spotify Three Podcast Series

Vice News Sells Spotify Three Podcast Series

Learn How This Project Was Made

Vice News Sells Spotify Three Podcast Series

Vice News Sells Spotify Three Podcast Series

Vice News Sells Spotify Three Podcast Series
March 14, 2019 7:13 PM
Media
Vice News Sells Spotify Three Podcast Series
Vice News Sells Spotify Three Podcast Series

Elizabeth Warren is now leading the 2020 polls

Elizabeth Warren is now leading the 2020 polls

Elizabeth Warren is now leading the 2020 polls

Elizabeth Warren is now leading the 2020 polls
March 14, 2019 7:13 PM
Media
Elizabeth Warren is now leading the 2020 polls
Elizabeth Warren is now leading the 2020 polls

Video Loss Programming Note 10/5/19

Video Loss Programming Note 10/5/19

Learn How This Project Was Made

Video Loss Programming Note 10/5/19

Video Loss Programming Note 10/5/19

Video Loss Programming Note 10/5/19
March 14, 2019 7:13 PM
Media

After a bit of a personal life hiatus, I’m back! Video Loss is in a somewhat workable state now, and during the hiatus I launched a couple of projects I’d been meaning to finish. The first one, a podcast about anxiety that I made last fall, is now available. I’ve got another one that I’m putting the finishing touches on. It should be up this week.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping to start posting daily on here again. With all the crazy media mergers happening, the specter of impeachment, and an increasingly contested primary, there’s plenty to talk about. Hopefully I can add to the conversations already happening.

I’m feeling good, it’s nice to feel like the backend is built up enough so that I can really focus on the content itself.

Video Loss Programming Note 10/5/19

After a bit of a personal life hiatus, I’m back! Video Loss is in a somewhat workable state now, and during the hiatus I launched a couple of projects I’d been meaning to finish. The first one, a podcast about anxiety that I made last fall, is now available. I’ve got another one that I’m putting the finishing touches on. It should be up this week.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping to start posting daily on here again. With all the crazy media mergers happening, the specter of impeachment, and an increasingly contested primary, there’s plenty to talk about. Hopefully I can add to the conversations already happening.

I’m feeling good, it’s nice to feel like the backend is built up enough so that I can really focus on the content itself.

Video Loss Programming Note 10/5/19

After a bit of a personal life hiatus, I’m back! Video Loss is in a somewhat workable state now, and during the hiatus I launched a couple of projects I’d been meaning to finish. The first one, a podcast about anxiety that I made last fall, is now available. I’ve got another one that I’m putting the finishing touches on. It should be up this week.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping to start posting daily on here again. With all the crazy media mergers happening, the specter of impeachment, and an increasingly contested primary, there’s plenty to talk about. Hopefully I can add to the conversations already happening.

I’m feeling good, it’s nice to feel like the backend is built up enough so that I can really focus on the content itself.

The merits of The Circus, a show for a broken Washington

The merits of The Circus, a show for a broken Washington

The merits of The Circus, a show for a broken Washington

The merits of The Circus, a show for a broken Washington
The merits of The Circus, a show for a broken Washington

We're Nervous: A Podcast Series About Anxiety and Society

We're Nervous: A Podcast Series About Anxiety and Society

We're Nervous is a podcast about living with anxiety in modern society.

Learn How This Project Was Made

We're Nervous: A Podcast Series About Anxiety and Society

We're Nervous: A Podcast Series About Anxiety and Society

We're Nervous: A Podcast Series About Anxiety and Society
March 14, 2019 7:13 PM
Culture
We're Nervous: A Podcast Series About Anxiety and Society
We're Nervous: A Podcast Series About Anxiety and Society

New York Media and Vox desperately want you to think their merger is different

Choreographed rollouts, secrecy, and desperate insecurity define what could be the first Good Media Deal of 2019

New York Media and Vox desperately want you to think their merger is different

Learn How This Project Was Made

Choreographed rollouts, secrecy, and desperate insecurity define what could be the first Good Media Deal of 2019

Choreographed rollouts, secrecy, and desperate insecurity define what could be the first Good Media Deal of 2019

New York Media and Vox desperately want you to think their merger is different

Choreographed rollouts, secrecy, and desperate insecurity define what could be the first Good Media Deal of 2019

New York Media and Vox desperately want you to think their merger is different

New York Media and Vox desperately want you to think their merger is different

Vice News’ post-HBO future comes into focus

Vice News’ post-HBO future comes into focus

Learn How This Project Was Made

Vice News’ post-HBO future comes into focus

Vice News’ post-HBO future comes into focus

Vice News’ post-HBO future comes into focus
March 14, 2019 7:13 PM
Media


Yesterday, Showtime announced that it was picking up Vice’s weekly docuseries, which originally aired on HBO before getting cancelled earlier this year. Despite middling early reviews when it premiered in 2013, the newsmagazine went on to win multiple Emmys throughout its run. The 13-episode seventh season will premiere on Showtime next spring.

A few months after its breakup with its main distributor HBO, Vice is realigning its news division with projects produced with both external partners and other divisions within the company.

  1. This new show on Showtime, which will be a weekly newsmagazine that consists of one to two documentary-style segments an episode.
  2. Vice News Tonight’s relaunch on Vice’s own cable channel Viceland. Vice says it will premiere “soon”, and an absolutely bonkers story from New York Magazine reports that it will cover Viceland’s entire three hour prime time lineup. (The HBO iteration lasted less than a half hour most nights.)
  3. Vice News Dot Com, which recently (and quietly!) got folded into the Vice Dot Com mothership. While Vice News’ content now exists alongside Vice’s other verticals, it continues to expand its original reporting efforts and is in the midst of aggressively staffing up for the 2020 election.
  4. A still unannounced project with Hulu. Originally this show was promoted by Vice leadership to staff as a replacement project for the newsmagazine. An official announcement never came after initial leaks in February, although that recent New York Magazine article confirmed the show was still coming. Presumably, it would be well into production by now. Except an announcement soon.

As a certified Vice News Tonight Stan, this new strategy gives me some amount of optimism. Relying on multiple partners for funding while building out their own internal platforms seems like a winning strategy for a media company with a large audience but shaky financial standing in 2019. While Showtime and Hulu lack the prestige of HBO, they certainly aren’t as unreliable as, say, a Facebook or Twitter. And I’ve been mostly encouraged by Vice’s efforts to rebuild their digital operations under Katie Drummond. (The amount of talent heading to Vice right now is pretty wild.)

The real open question is the show on Viceland. Moving from half an hour to three hours a night without a substantial investment into building the kind of team needed to support that jump is insane. In fact, Vice News Tonight seems to be doing the opposite; star reporters Arielle Duhaime-Ross and Elle Reece have jumped ship to Vox and CNN respectively. (Reeve’s departure is especially painful; her reporting on Charleston was VNT’s one real breakout moment.) New York reports that the expanded lineup may lean heavily into talking heads and roundtables, an easy way to fill up time but an approach vastly less interesting than the old HBO show. All of this is also happening on Viceland, which is (somehow) profitable but completely inconsequential in every other way.

A last note on what this may mean for Vice’s future: an item in Vanity Fair from earlier this summer raised the idea of a CBS/Viacom buyout of Vice. Apparently, Nancy Dubuc (Vice’s new CEO) was immensely interested in the proposition, as were some forces over at CBS, including Shari Redstone. Someone uninterested in the idea was historic Vice skeptic Bob Bakish, the current CEO of Viacom and the incoming leader of a merged CBS-Viacom. That deal hasn’t closed yet, but CBS’s pickup of Vice on Showtime may suggest a newfound willingness on Bakish’s part. At the very least, it means that Dubuc and her New Vice still have supporters at CBS.


Vice News’ post-HBO future comes into focus


Yesterday, Showtime announced that it was picking up Vice’s weekly docuseries, which originally aired on HBO before getting cancelled earlier this year. Despite middling early reviews when it premiered in 2013, the newsmagazine went on to win multiple Emmys throughout its run. The 13-episode seventh season will premiere on Showtime next spring.

A few months after its breakup with its main distributor HBO, Vice is realigning its news division with projects produced with both external partners and other divisions within the company.

  1. This new show on Showtime, which will be a weekly newsmagazine that consists of one to two documentary-style segments an episode.
  2. Vice News Tonight’s relaunch on Vice’s own cable channel Viceland. Vice says it will premiere “soon”, and an absolutely bonkers story from New York Magazine reports that it will cover Viceland’s entire three hour prime time lineup. (The HBO iteration lasted less than a half hour most nights.)
  3. Vice News Dot Com, which recently (and quietly!) got folded into the Vice Dot Com mothership. While Vice News’ content now exists alongside Vice’s other verticals, it continues to expand its original reporting efforts and is in the midst of aggressively staffing up for the 2020 election.
  4. A still unannounced project with Hulu. Originally this show was promoted by Vice leadership to staff as a replacement project for the newsmagazine. An official announcement never came after initial leaks in February, although that recent New York Magazine article confirmed the show was still coming. Presumably, it would be well into production by now. Except an announcement soon.

As a certified Vice News Tonight Stan, this new strategy gives me some amount of optimism. Relying on multiple partners for funding while building out their own internal platforms seems like a winning strategy for a media company with a large audience but shaky financial standing in 2019. While Showtime and Hulu lack the prestige of HBO, they certainly aren’t as unreliable as, say, a Facebook or Twitter. And I’ve been mostly encouraged by Vice’s efforts to rebuild their digital operations under Katie Drummond. (The amount of talent heading to Vice right now is pretty wild.)

The real open question is the show on Viceland. Moving from half an hour to three hours a night without a substantial investment into building the kind of team needed to support that jump is insane. In fact, Vice News Tonight seems to be doing the opposite; star reporters Arielle Duhaime-Ross and Elle Reece have jumped ship to Vox and CNN respectively. (Reeve’s departure is especially painful; her reporting on Charleston was VNT’s one real breakout moment.) New York reports that the expanded lineup may lean heavily into talking heads and roundtables, an easy way to fill up time but an approach vastly less interesting than the old HBO show. All of this is also happening on Viceland, which is (somehow) profitable but completely inconsequential in every other way.

A last note on what this may mean for Vice’s future: an item in Vanity Fair from earlier this summer raised the idea of a CBS/Viacom buyout of Vice. Apparently, Nancy Dubuc (Vice’s new CEO) was immensely interested in the proposition, as were some forces over at CBS, including Shari Redstone. Someone uninterested in the idea was historic Vice skeptic Bob Bakish, the current CEO of Viacom and the incoming leader of a merged CBS-Viacom. That deal hasn’t closed yet, but CBS’s pickup of Vice on Showtime may suggest a newfound willingness on Bakish’s part. At the very least, it means that Dubuc and her New Vice still have supporters at CBS.


Vice News’ post-HBO future comes into focus


Yesterday, Showtime announced that it was picking up Vice’s weekly docuseries, which originally aired on HBO before getting cancelled earlier this year. Despite middling early reviews when it premiered in 2013, the newsmagazine went on to win multiple Emmys throughout its run. The 13-episode seventh season will premiere on Showtime next spring.

A few months after its breakup with its main distributor HBO, Vice is realigning its news division with projects produced with both external partners and other divisions within the company.

  1. This new show on Showtime, which will be a weekly newsmagazine that consists of one to two documentary-style segments an episode.
  2. Vice News Tonight’s relaunch on Vice’s own cable channel Viceland. Vice says it will premiere “soon”, and an absolutely bonkers story from New York Magazine reports that it will cover Viceland’s entire three hour prime time lineup. (The HBO iteration lasted less than a half hour most nights.)
  3. Vice News Dot Com, which recently (and quietly!) got folded into the Vice Dot Com mothership. While Vice News’ content now exists alongside Vice’s other verticals, it continues to expand its original reporting efforts and is in the midst of aggressively staffing up for the 2020 election.
  4. A still unannounced project with Hulu. Originally this show was promoted by Vice leadership to staff as a replacement project for the newsmagazine. An official announcement never came after initial leaks in February, although that recent New York Magazine article confirmed the show was still coming. Presumably, it would be well into production by now. Except an announcement soon.

As a certified Vice News Tonight Stan, this new strategy gives me some amount of optimism. Relying on multiple partners for funding while building out their own internal platforms seems like a winning strategy for a media company with a large audience but shaky financial standing in 2019. While Showtime and Hulu lack the prestige of HBO, they certainly aren’t as unreliable as, say, a Facebook or Twitter. And I’ve been mostly encouraged by Vice’s efforts to rebuild their digital operations under Katie Drummond. (The amount of talent heading to Vice right now is pretty wild.)

The real open question is the show on Viceland. Moving from half an hour to three hours a night without a substantial investment into building the kind of team needed to support that jump is insane. In fact, Vice News Tonight seems to be doing the opposite; star reporters Arielle Duhaime-Ross and Elle Reece have jumped ship to Vox and CNN respectively. (Reeve’s departure is especially painful; her reporting on Charleston was VNT’s one real breakout moment.) New York reports that the expanded lineup may lean heavily into talking heads and roundtables, an easy way to fill up time but an approach vastly less interesting than the old HBO show. All of this is also happening on Viceland, which is (somehow) profitable but completely inconsequential in every other way.

A last note on what this may mean for Vice’s future: an item in Vanity Fair from earlier this summer raised the idea of a CBS/Viacom buyout of Vice. Apparently, Nancy Dubuc (Vice’s new CEO) was immensely interested in the proposition, as were some forces over at CBS, including Shari Redstone. Someone uninterested in the idea was historic Vice skeptic Bob Bakish, the current CEO of Viacom and the incoming leader of a merged CBS-Viacom. That deal hasn’t closed yet, but CBS’s pickup of Vice on Showtime may suggest a newfound willingness on Bakish’s part. At the very least, it means that Dubuc and her New Vice still have supporters at CBS.


It would appear Al Franken is going on a speaking tour

The former Senator from Minnesota is taking another step back into the spotlight

It would appear Al Franken is going on a speaking tour

Learn How This Project Was Made

The former Senator from Minnesota is taking another step back into the spotlight

The former Senator from Minnesota is taking another step back into the spotlight

It would appear Al Franken is going on a speaking tour

The former Senator from Minnesota is taking another step back into the spotlight

It would appear Al Franken is going on a speaking tour

It would appear Al Franken is going on a speaking tour
March 14, 2019 7:13 PM
Media
It would appear Al Franken is going on a speaking tour
It would appear Al Franken is going on a speaking tour

America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black Americans Made It One

America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black Americans Made It One

America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black Americans Made It One

America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black Americans Made It One

‘Vice News Tonight’ Lands At Viceland Cable Network

‘Vice News Tonight’ Lands At Viceland Cable Network

Learn How This Project Was Made

‘Vice News Tonight’ Lands At Viceland Cable Network

‘Vice News Tonight’ Lands At Viceland Cable Network

‘Vice News Tonight’ Lands At Viceland Cable Network
March 14, 2019 7:13 PM
Media
‘Vice News Tonight’ Lands At Viceland Cable Network
‘Vice News Tonight’ Lands At Viceland Cable Network

I don’t care about Anthony Scaramucci ever, and especially now

I don’t care about Anthony Scaramucci ever, and especially now

I don’t care about Anthony Scaramucci ever, and especially now

Driving the news: In a phone interview on Sunday afternoon, Scaramucci compared Trump to a melting nuclear reactor and said he may support a Republican challenger to Trump.

-Jonathan Swan, in an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW published on Axios

Granted, in a normal world, it would be noteworthy if a former Administration official publicly condemned the President they served under. 

But we aren’t in normal times and Scaramucci isn’t a normal former Administration official. He’s a dipshit con-artist, who infamously served as Communication Director for eleven days before John Kelly unceremoniously dumped him. His career both pre-and-post White House has been unremarkable. There is little reason to give him space in the news, especially for a EXCLUSIVE interview. 

The President is angry at him on Twitter, sure, but when we are still reeling from two mass shootings, have an administration that has no response to the factors that keep causing mass shootings, and know that Trump loves changing narratives when they don’t suit him, should we really be letting that dictate news judgement? 

Who cares? Why should anyone care? This is stupid. This is a distraction. 

I don’t care about Anthony Scaramucci ever, and especially now

New News

New News

Learn How This Project Was Made

New News

New News

New News
March 14, 2019 7:13 PM
Media
New News
New News

Axios, Vice News Tonight, The Weekly, and the attempted reinvention of television news

The GateHouse-Gannett merger is official

The GateHouse-Gannett merger is official

Learn How This Project Was Made

The GateHouse-Gannett merger is official

The GateHouse-Gannett merger is official

The GateHouse-Gannett merger is official
March 14, 2019 7:13 PM
Media
The GateHouse-Gannett merger is official
The GateHouse-Gannett merger is official

Why won’t Barack Obama say Trump’s name?

Why won’t Barack Obama say Trump’s name?

Learn How This Project Was Made

Why won’t Barack Obama say Trump’s name?

Why won’t Barack Obama say Trump’s name?

We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments; leaders who demonize those who don’t look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people. Such language isn’t new – it’s been at the root of most human tragedy throughout history, here in America and around the world. It is at the root of slavery and Jim Crow, the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. It has no place in our politics and our public life. And it’s time for the overwhelming majority of Americans of goodwill, of every race and faith and political party, to say as much – clearly and unequivocally.

-Barack Obama, in a statement on the recent mass shootings

It’s deeply odd to me that Obama won’t go all the way and name Trump in this paragraph. 

It’s even more bizarre given the rest of the statement. He has no problem directly identifying two of the other reasons for the increase in mass shootings generally and white nationalist terrorism specifically: America’s broken gun laws and the internet’s ability to spread hate. How clearly he names these two factors make the paragraph above all the more inexplicable to me. 

I mean, like, he’s clearly talking about Trump in that first sentence, right? We all know that. Trump knows that. What exactly is spared by excluding Trump’s name? Beyond that, casting the current problem of white nationalist terrorism in a historical context is a very Obama stylistic flair, yet it also lacks coherency since he doesn’t name one of the primary catalysts of this new scourge: Trump’s rise and the normalization of outwardly racist statements in political discourse. 

I don’t know. I get that Obama is trying to stay above attacking his replacement—this statement follows a long tradition of Obama implicitly criticizing Trump while not naming him directly—but doesn’t this moment demand more than this? How much longer can Obama’s subtweeting stay viable? What will the breaking point be? 

Why won’t Barack Obama say Trump’s name?
March 14, 2019 12:55 PM
Politics
Why won’t Barack Obama say Trump’s name?
Why won’t Barack Obama say Trump’s name?

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood wants you to hang out and be cool

Tarantino’s latest is a shockingly earnest ode to a bygone era in society and filmmaking, an intoxicatingly fun film that only wants to be seen on its own terms

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood wants you to hang out and be cool

Learn How This Project Was Made

Tarantino’s latest is a shockingly earnest ode to a bygone era in society and filmmaking, an intoxicatingly fun film that only wants to be seen on its own terms

Tarantino’s latest is a shockingly earnest ode to a bygone era in society and filmmaking, an intoxicatingly fun film that only wants to be seen on its own terms

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood wants you to hang out and be cool

Tarantino’s latest is a shockingly earnest ode to a bygone era in society and filmmaking, an intoxicatingly fun film that only wants to be seen on its own terms

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood wants you to hang out and be cool

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood wants you to hang out and be cool

Welcome back to Video Loss

Video Loss looks different, but the mission (lol) is the same

Welcome back to Video Loss

Learn How This Project Was Made

Video Loss looks different, but the mission (lol) is the same

Video Loss looks different, but the mission (lol) is the same

Welcome back to Video Loss

Video Loss looks different, but the mission (lol) is the same

Welcome back to Video Loss

Welcome back to Video Loss
March 14, 2019 7:13 PM
Media
Welcome back to Video Loss
Welcome back to Video Loss

It's Friday and my brother is dying

It's Friday and my brother is dying

When illness strikes, it can be remarkably, brutally fast.

Learn How This Project Was Made

It's Friday and my brother is dying

It's Friday and my brother is dying

It's Friday and my brother is dying
March 14, 2019 7:13 PM
Culture
It's Friday and my brother is dying
It's Friday and my brother is dying

In night two of CNN’s debates, a search for the Democrats’ future and the unbearable weight of the past

Attacks don’t land if everyone deserves to be attacked

In night two of CNN’s debates, a search for the Democrats’ future and the unbearable weight of the past

Learn How This Project Was Made

Attacks don’t land if everyone deserves to be attacked

Attacks don’t land if everyone deserves to be attacked

In night two of CNN’s debates, a search for the Democrats’ future and the unbearable weight of the past

Attacks don’t land if everyone deserves to be attacked

In night two of CNN’s debates, a search for the Democrats’ future and the unbearable weight of the past

Limitations define Kamala Harris’ student debt plan

How a silly tweet reveals a key ideological difference between Harris and her peers

Limitations define Kamala Harris’ student debt plan

Learn How This Project Was Made

How a silly tweet reveals a key ideological difference between Harris and her peers

How a silly tweet reveals a key ideological difference between Harris and her peers

Limitations define Kamala Harris’ student debt plan

How a silly tweet reveals a key ideological difference between Harris and her peers

Limitations define Kamala Harris’ student debt plan

Limitations define Kamala Harris’ student debt plan
March 14, 2019 12:55 PM
Politics
Limitations define Kamala Harris’ student debt plan
Limitations define Kamala Harris’ student debt plan

It would appear the guy who bought Gizmodo Media Group is a massive dummy

It would appear the guy who bought Gizmodo Media Group is a massive dummy

Learn How This Project Was Made

It would appear the guy who bought Gizmodo Media Group is a massive dummy

It would appear the guy who bought Gizmodo Media Group is a massive dummy

It would appear the guy who bought Gizmodo Media Group is a massive dummy
March 14, 2019 7:13 PM
Media

Maxwell Tani at The Daily Beast is out with a shocking story detailing the state of G/O Media, the company that formed to manage the former Gawker Media sites after Univision sold them off to private equity firm Great Hills. The staff at these sites (which include Gizmodo, Splinter, Jezebel, Kotaku, and Deadspin) are now a few months into the new regime led by CEO Jim Spanfeuller and, uh, things don’t sound like they are going well:

Leaning on editors to be nice to advertisers. Asking for sites to quadruple their traffic—with no new resources. Relocating to roach-filled offices. Publicly remarking about ethnic stereotypes.

Among the insane things Spanfeuller is apparently doing at G/O:

  • Reviewing editorial content on Japolkin (the network’s car blog) that involves Lexus, an advertiser across G/O’s sites. The goal? “To ensure that its stories did not discourage the luxury automaker from advertising.”
  • Doubling down on programmatic display ads, a technique he used to great success at Forbes.com years ago, but has since completely nosedived in terms of sales rates. (He told staff they were about to make a “huge comeback.”
  • Suggesting that the reporters at Kotaku bring along sales representatives to interviews.
  • Telling a Lifehacker writer that the lifehack for Japan is that no one talks.
  • Coming up with a new catchphrase for the famously counter-culture Jezebel: We Champion Women
  • When pushed on diversity, giving an answer that “was as if he was thinking about these issues for the first time.”
  • Attempting to cut down on costs for rented chairs at events, because they “cost much more than the chairs he rented for his wedding.”
  • Seeking to exponentially increase traffic, not but investing in new resources, but by adding listicles and slideshows.
  • Suggesting his team build a new video player (in 2019!!!!).

A lot of these decisions make sense if you know Jim Spanfeuller’s background: he’s been floating around digital media for years attempting to chase the success he had building Forbes’s web presence.

At Forbes, he aggressively expanded the magazine’s amount of content and advertising, creating a massive network of low-quality contributors who could post on Forbes with minimal editorial oversight while selling display ads backed by performance guarantees. According to Digiday, this eventually led to display ads with CPMs between $25 and $40, an astronomical sum at the time. This model of endless content backed by traditional advertising seems to be what he’s attempting to build at G/O Media.

Except: it’s not 2009 anymore and G/O Media isn’t Forbes. Remember when I said he’s been trying this for years? Spanfeuller was plucked out of semi-retirement by Great Hills to run G/O Media after his time at The Daily Meal and Active Times, two lifestyle sites he launched in 2011 with massive ambitions and similar strategies to his work at Forbes. Editors were expected to produce eight stories a day, while Spanfeuller hired a massive ad team operating with a similar mandate to what he led at Forbes.

The problem was that these sites didn’t have the name recognition of Forbes and were being built in a fundementially different time for digital media. While the model of scale worked back when Forbes was growing, changes in social media algorithms, more discerning audiences, and the collapse of value in selling display ads meant that The Daily Meal and Active Times limped around for years before being quietly sold to Tribune Publishing in 2016. It wasn’t a complete disaster, but it showed that the Forbes model of expansion was no longer viable.

It would appear that Spanfeuller has not learned many lessons from this experience, however. It’s especially confounding because G/O’s sites already have a defined culture and an obsessive audience. You theoretically wouldn’t need to do much to allow these sites to thrive, and yet Spanfeuller is attempting to force his outdated model of web publishing onto them. It’s hugely disappointing as someone who loves G/O’s trailblazing journalism, and it unfortunately appears doomed to fail.

It would appear the guy who bought Gizmodo Media Group is a massive dummy

Maxwell Tani at The Daily Beast is out with a shocking story detailing the state of G/O Media, the company that formed to manage the former Gawker Media sites after Univision sold them off to private equity firm Great Hills. The staff at these sites (which include Gizmodo, Splinter, Jezebel, Kotaku, and Deadspin) are now a few months into the new regime led by CEO Jim Spanfeuller and, uh, things don’t sound like they are going well:

Leaning on editors to be nice to advertisers. Asking for sites to quadruple their traffic—with no new resources. Relocating to roach-filled offices. Publicly remarking about ethnic stereotypes.

Among the insane things Spanfeuller is apparently doing at G/O:

  • Reviewing editorial content on Japolkin (the network’s car blog) that involves Lexus, an advertiser across G/O’s sites. The goal? “To ensure that its stories did not discourage the luxury automaker from advertising.”
  • Doubling down on programmatic display ads, a technique he used to great success at Forbes.com years ago, but has since completely nosedived in terms of sales rates. (He told staff they were about to make a “huge comeback.”
  • Suggesting that the reporters at Kotaku bring along sales representatives to interviews.
  • Telling a Lifehacker writer that the lifehack for Japan is that no one talks.
  • Coming up with a new catchphrase for the famously counter-culture Jezebel: We Champion Women
  • When pushed on diversity, giving an answer that “was as if he was thinking about these issues for the first time.”
  • Attempting to cut down on costs for rented chairs at events, because they “cost much more than the chairs he rented for his wedding.”
  • Seeking to exponentially increase traffic, not but investing in new resources, but by adding listicles and slideshows.
  • Suggesting his team build a new video player (in 2019!!!!).

A lot of these decisions make sense if you know Jim Spanfeuller’s background: he’s been floating around digital media for years attempting to chase the success he had building Forbes’s web presence.

At Forbes, he aggressively expanded the magazine’s amount of content and advertising, creating a massive network of low-quality contributors who could post on Forbes with minimal editorial oversight while selling display ads backed by performance guarantees. According to Digiday, this eventually led to display ads with CPMs between $25 and $40, an astronomical sum at the time. This model of endless content backed by traditional advertising seems to be what he’s attempting to build at G/O Media.

Except: it’s not 2009 anymore and G/O Media isn’t Forbes. Remember when I said he’s been trying this for years? Spanfeuller was plucked out of semi-retirement by Great Hills to run G/O Media after his time at The Daily Meal and Active Times, two lifestyle sites he launched in 2011 with massive ambitions and similar strategies to his work at Forbes. Editors were expected to produce eight stories a day, while Spanfeuller hired a massive ad team operating with a similar mandate to what he led at Forbes.

The problem was that these sites didn’t have the name recognition of Forbes and were being built in a fundementially different time for digital media. While the model of scale worked back when Forbes was growing, changes in social media algorithms, more discerning audiences, and the collapse of value in selling display ads meant that The Daily Meal and Active Times limped around for years before being quietly sold to Tribune Publishing in 2016. It wasn’t a complete disaster, but it showed that the Forbes model of expansion was no longer viable.

It would appear that Spanfeuller has not learned many lessons from this experience, however. It’s especially confounding because G/O’s sites already have a defined culture and an obsessive audience. You theoretically wouldn’t need to do much to allow these sites to thrive, and yet Spanfeuller is attempting to force his outdated model of web publishing onto them. It’s hugely disappointing as someone who loves G/O’s trailblazing journalism, and it unfortunately appears doomed to fail.

It would appear the guy who bought Gizmodo Media Group is a massive dummy

Maxwell Tani at The Daily Beast is out with a shocking story detailing the state of G/O Media, the company that formed to manage the former Gawker Media sites after Univision sold them off to private equity firm Great Hills. The staff at these sites (which include Gizmodo, Splinter, Jezebel, Kotaku, and Deadspin) are now a few months into the new regime led by CEO Jim Spanfeuller and, uh, things don’t sound like they are going well:

Leaning on editors to be nice to advertisers. Asking for sites to quadruple their traffic—with no new resources. Relocating to roach-filled offices. Publicly remarking about ethnic stereotypes.

Among the insane things Spanfeuller is apparently doing at G/O:

  • Reviewing editorial content on Japolkin (the network’s car blog) that involves Lexus, an advertiser across G/O’s sites. The goal? “To ensure that its stories did not discourage the luxury automaker from advertising.”
  • Doubling down on programmatic display ads, a technique he used to great success at Forbes.com years ago, but has since completely nosedived in terms of sales rates. (He told staff they were about to make a “huge comeback.”
  • Suggesting that the reporters at Kotaku bring along sales representatives to interviews.
  • Telling a Lifehacker writer that the lifehack for Japan is that no one talks.
  • Coming up with a new catchphrase for the famously counter-culture Jezebel: We Champion Women
  • When pushed on diversity, giving an answer that “was as if he was thinking about these issues for the first time.”
  • Attempting to cut down on costs for rented chairs at events, because they “cost much more than the chairs he rented for his wedding.”
  • Seeking to exponentially increase traffic, not but investing in new resources, but by adding listicles and slideshows.
  • Suggesting his team build a new video player (in 2019!!!!).

A lot of these decisions make sense if you know Jim Spanfeuller’s background: he’s been floating around digital media for years attempting to chase the success he had building Forbes’s web presence.

At Forbes, he aggressively expanded the magazine’s amount of content and advertising, creating a massive network of low-quality contributors who could post on Forbes with minimal editorial oversight while selling display ads backed by performance guarantees. According to Digiday, this eventually led to display ads with CPMs between $25 and $40, an astronomical sum at the time. This model of endless content backed by traditional advertising seems to be what he’s attempting to build at G/O Media.

Except: it’s not 2009 anymore and G/O Media isn’t Forbes. Remember when I said he’s been trying this for years? Spanfeuller was plucked out of semi-retirement by Great Hills to run G/O Media after his time at The Daily Meal and Active Times, two lifestyle sites he launched in 2011 with massive ambitions and similar strategies to his work at Forbes. Editors were expected to produce eight stories a day, while Spanfeuller hired a massive ad team operating with a similar mandate to what he led at Forbes.

The problem was that these sites didn’t have the name recognition of Forbes and were being built in a fundementially different time for digital media. While the model of scale worked back when Forbes was growing, changes in social media algorithms, more discerning audiences, and the collapse of value in selling display ads meant that The Daily Meal and Active Times limped around for years before being quietly sold to Tribune Publishing in 2016. It wasn’t a complete disaster, but it showed that the Forbes model of expansion was no longer viable.

It would appear that Spanfeuller has not learned many lessons from this experience, however. It’s especially confounding because G/O’s sites already have a defined culture and an obsessive audience. You theoretically wouldn’t need to do much to allow these sites to thrive, and yet Spanfeuller is attempting to force his outdated model of web publishing onto them. It’s hugely disappointing as someone who loves G/O’s trailblazing journalism, and it unfortunately appears doomed to fail.