Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Pajamas Media

NY Sun reported Three Political Web Logs Make a Run for the Mainstream In a dramatic sign that Web logs are going mainstream, three of the largest political blogs are banding together to form what is believed to be a first-of-its kind ad-supported network. To broaden their appeal beyond national security issues, the three - ArmedLiberal, RogerLSimon, and LittleGreenFootballs - will receive editorial advice from the owner of one of the most heavily trafficked blogs, Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds, among others.

The venture will be called Pajamas Media, a not-so-subtle reference to the September remarks of a CNN executive, Jonathan Klein, who said a typical blogger has "no checks and balances" and is just "a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas." No launch date has been set. The idea of Pajamas Media is to use an extensive network of globally affiliated blogs to provide first-person, in-depth coverage of most major news events, including both camera and video footage, Roger Simon said.

Using as an example the tsunami that swept through parts of Asia and Africa in January, Mr. Simon said bloggers managed to post hundreds of updates, first-person accounts, and video clips, often before major press organizations could deploy their staffs. With 162 affiliate blogs in dozens of different countries, according to Mr. Simon, the new venture will have the ability to get "in the middle of stories" that major news organizations can't, "because our affiliates will have a physical proximity, language, and cultural knowledge that the Associated Press man will often lack." Mr. Simon is a Los Angeles-based screenwriter and mystery novelist whose credits include the Woody Allen directed "Scenes From a Mall" and the Moses Wine detective series.

The LittleGreenFootballs blogger, Charles Johnson, said the challenge is to keep the freewheeling character of a popular blog - where opinions and criticism are given freely - while meeting high standards and aggressively pursuing stories. "Look at how blogs, with no coordination and limited money, scooped major papers and the networks on stories like Dan Rather, Eason Jordan, and the tsunami," he said. Mr. Johnson, whose blog averages about 70,000 unique visitors a day, has been called the first writer to conclude that documents purporting to prove that President Bush used political leverage to get out of Air National Guard training exercises in the early 1970s were computer-generated and inauthentic.

Instapundit.com's Mr. Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor whose blog averages more than 130,000 unique visitors a day - according to the Truth Laid Bear, a blog that tracks Web log traffic - said large press organizations have nothing to fear from a successful Pajamas Media. "I think it is a tired cliche that because there won't be newspaper editors at PJM, that somehow the product will be diminished," Mr. Reynolds said. "We do not need four or five layers of editors to screw this up like they have at the L.A. Times. Hopefully, we'll have live feeds and middle-of-the-crowd commentary from the next Beirut demonstration." Mr. Reynolds's mention of the Los Angeles Times was a reference to a March 29 column by that paper's press critic, David Shaw, asserting that reporting at the Times and other papers was preferable to the work of bloggers because of the multiple layers of editing that each story undergoes. Mr. Reynolds argued that the work of the blogger-reporters of Pajamas Media would improve the quality of reporting on major events. "Hopefully, reporters from larger organizations will use us as another resource to cite when they report on a big story," he said. "We're not a threat to their jobs, but we'll make them do their jobs better since their will be another record out there." From a practical perspective, he said, one of the goals of the founders, once financing is in place, is to get a handheld camcorder and a laptop notebook into the hands of all their affiliated bloggers.

The economics of launching what is in effect a global blog-based wire service is complex but not insurmountable, Mr. Simon said. "We have about seven different investment offers on the table right now," he said, "so getting off the ground shouldn't be a problem." Syndicating advertisements through affiliated blogs so that advertisers reach a global network, according to LittleGreenFootball's Mr. Johnson, will sustain the project. Citing demographic research he said he has done on his site, he said: "We've got a lot to offer advertisers. My blog and many others have a lot of six-figure readers, a lot of graduate degrees, and reader loyalty." Mr. Simon went a step further, saying his readers, based on an informal survey he did on his site three months ago, have a median income of $100,000. His blog averages about 18,000 unique visitors a day.

The timing is right for Pajamas Media's advertising syndication approach, according to the president of a marketing company for Web sites, Tom Hespos, who said the key to successful advertising on blogs is tapping into what he called "their audience dedication." He said blog readers will frequently log into their favorite sites three or four times a day and often do not ignore or dismiss advertisements as readily as they do in print or on television.

"As long as they continue to identify the blogger as credible, blog audiences have proven remarkably loyal and resilient," Mr. Hespos said, "and that extends to advertising." Mr. Simon said his blog makes about $1,000 a month and recently carried ads for Friendster blogs - featuring a revealing pose by the actress Pamela Sue Anderson - and a physical-conditioning program.

Mr. Hespos said that with attractive demographics, a popular blogger can make between $4,000 and $5,000 a month, which he said makes blogs economically viable. Based on standard rates of between $10 and $15 per thousand page views, he said it shouldn't be difficult to get Pajama Media's blog network into the $5,000-a-month range to start. Moreover, if the venture manages to gather page views going into the millions, the revenues could easily increase to between $12,000 and $15,000 per month.

There are caveats, however. The first is that blog advertising is unpopular with a large segment of traditional advertisers, such as Proctor & Gamble, who are uncomfortable with the potential of their products' being sold near potentially controversial copy. When advertisers consider buying space on blogs, according to Underscore Marketing's Mr. Hespos, the notion of editorial material reflecting negatively on the advertiser is a big question mark. "There are no controls for blog advertising, so you need an advertiser that has demonstrated a comfort level with that, because there is no moving a product away from a controversial opinion or off-color remark," he said. Examples of name-brand advertisers that have had an aggressive blog advertising presence include Sony and Nike, which both have had large ad placements on various Gawker Media blogs.

A.M. Mora y Leon blogged An amazing article in today’s New York Sun has the number on how blogging is revolutionizing the world. Now, there is a new project to rationalize what we look for in from blogs, utilizing their inherent competitive advantage, when a global news event happens. (Because we want to know just what it is like in the middle of the crowd when Beirut happens!) And fascinatingly, this new development is led by the genius who understands this phenomenon better than anyone else on earth, Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds, specifically speaking of revolutions. When you read the article, notice Glenn’s powerful way of cutting to the logical quick of what’s really at hand, explaining in just a few reasoned words what blogging is really about. Instapundit is the Cardinal Ratzinger of the blog world. (And you know where that led!)

James Joyner blogged In early February, I got an e-mail from Marc Danziger (aka "Armed Liberal") inviting me to join an enterprise known as Pajamas Media. The details were sketchy but sounded interesting and it came with the backing of some people whose work I respect, so I signed on, including an agreement to keep it confidential. Last week, Roger L. Simon broke word on his blog. Now, the New York Sun has a big feature in today's edition revealing the genesis and vision behind the project.

Roger L. Simon blogged Affiliated blogs have now reached 180+ (not counting an almost equal number of milblogs).

Michelle Malkin blogged Impeccable timing: The news of this groundbreaking venture comes as newspaper circulation figures plummet.

Here's how I had to read it several times before it saw it. Just click here

Jimmie blogged Bloggahs in Pajamas Are Taking O’er the World. Well, not really, but sometimes it looks as if they might, considering the occasional displays of power the blogosphere shows when bloggers work in anything resembling a coordinated manner. This looks like a good thing another one of those coordinations that could give the evolution of news reporting a much-needed kick in the pants.

Scared Monkeys blogged Looks like we have the next step in the evolution of blogging. Oh to be a fly on the wall at the MSM Network board rooms these days or as posted earlier today what must the Newspaper outlets be thinking?

AlphaPatriot blogged This will be very, very interesting. Even Michelle Malkin promises to join. I've never taken money for my blog (it's not a job), not even a tip jar, but the opportunity to support something that challenges the single-source MSM sounds like the right thing to do. Anything to make the readership of newspapers continue to decline.

Homeland Security Blog Area blogged It’s all over except for the “fat lady” singing. The Blogos has replaced the MSM as the relevant source of objective news/info of the day. This revolution has been quietly preceding for sometime.

Conservative Revolution blogged It looks as if the Dons of the Blogosphere have gotten together and decided to make a legitimate business out of these here blogs. I think that it is an excellent idea, as far as the money side goes. Those guys are going to make some huge profits off other people's ideas, writing and time. However, I understand that they will spreading the wealth by allowing any blogger to have the ads on their site. Pretty cool if they can get it all together.

Blogs Up, MSM Down. Power to the people!

No comments: