Something Under the Business Model is Drooling
Pajamas Media, the Left Coast “balanced” blog conglomerate, has slammed the door on all its associate bloggers. Roger Simon is the CEO and his charmless pink slip reads much like the nastygram we got back when they banned us for daring to be politically incorrect. Of course, since we were being banned rather than merely made redundant, we got a phone call, too, informing us of our sins.
This time, PJM is not just booting the bad little bloggers who color outside the lines, like Gates of Vienna. Now, as of April 1st, it’s shutting the doors on all those bloggers who signed on and stayed on with them through the past few years. One would think that they’d have enough courtesy to at least personalize their form letter a bit. But no, everyone got the identical heave-ho.
In case you weren’t around then, or have forgotten, our sin was in posting an essay which described possible scenarios if Europe continued in its downward spiral of lawlessness and demographic decline. We were careful to bracket the discussion as descriptive, not normative. Truth to tell, I don’t think the folks in charge out in Hollywood understand the difference between these two categories.
At the point we were canned, I realized we weren’t dealing with conservatives at all. Instead, this entity, PJM, consisted of some venture capitalists and a front man, all of them 9/11 converts – as in “Help! We gotta do something!” But their conservatism was barely skin-deep. They’ve been in Hollywood too long to even notice or care beyond whatever numbers they need to generate in order to consider themselves successful. Out there, appearance trumps everything.
Atlas Shrugs has a good description of what went wrong. She also suggests, in her inimitable way, that she could have done it better with one hand tied behind her back. I think she might be right.
Now, having one failed business plan under its fedora, PJM is turning its talents this time in the direction of a hybrid, something called PJ-TV…
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Our satellite hookup does not easily allow us to watch streaming video, so I haven’t experienced their new paradigm firsthand. But from what I’ve read – and that’s not much – their new model is a paid subscription to watch talking heads bloviate. Good heavens! Isn’t that what they do on television already, for free? Are there really enough people willing to fork over money to watch people they don’t know say predictable things on a computer screen? And just how are people who sneak their blog reading at work going to get away with having streaming video up and running during work time?
TV is easy to make fun of, but at least their front men are pretty enough and while what they say is mostly nonsense, they say it with a bit of verve.
In other words, I can’t imagine this new model succeeding. Have any of you ever had the experience of showing up to hear a beloved author talk at a book signing only to find that he or she is a bit lusterless in person? I am afraid that is the future of PJ-TV. People will wander away.
Tiger Hawk suggests some good reasons for the failure of the blogger side of PJM at this juncture. Among other points, he says:
There are probably a number of reasons, but the main one — the decline of conventional internet advertising — overwhelms the otherwise reasonable premise behind Pajamas Media.
Conventional internet advertising is generally down. Mainstream media sites have seen a huge surge in traffic in the last few years, but a decline in online revenue. Suffice it to say that this is very bad news for the big news organizations, which were hoping that online business would grow quickly enough to sustain their newsgathering operations. It is also bad news for people who want to sell ads on blogs, because it means that they are competing with a very hungry mainstream media
I’m glad we don’t have to sell ads to meet the expenses of running the blog. We never set out to try to make a living as bloggers; that would make it work and the Baron already has a job that supports us both. Yeah, I’d like to see him get paid for this, but then again, I’d love to be well enough to go to work myself. However, as we’ve all learned the hard way, man proposes…
When we first started, the expenses were few. But as we’ve grown, we’ve had to add a site to store images and an internet satellite connection, in addition to keeping our dial-up ISP for emergency use. Satellite connections don’t like bad weather.
Eventually, as Blogger becomes more restrictive and/or whimsical, we’ll have to migrate to another site. That gargantuan task will definitely be put off until it reaches the “HAVE TO” stage.
I feel sorry for all the about-to-be former PJM bloggers who have been shown the door. But at least they have two months’ notice to make other arrangements. That’s more than we outlaws got, though, as I said, being thrown into the outer darkness was indeed a liberation. Our readers was instantly generous in making up the short fall and then some. Notice we haven’t had to do a bleg since that first one. And still ad free!
Most of the bloggers who’ve been made redundant will also find this to be true. I wish them good luck in their transition back to the regular ol’ blogosphere.
Yes, it is indeed frowned upon to create your own versions of Calvin and Hobbes. Putting Calvin in Roger’s fedora and changing the title probably doesn’t make it, huh?
Sorry, Mr. Watterson. We simply couldn’t resist. Calvin is Everyman at one point or another (which is why your books continue to sell after all these years). In this episode and at this juncture, Calvin most resembles the hapless Roger Simon.
For our European readers not familiar with Calvin and Hobbes, please see Something Under the Bed is Drooling. Two generations of American children have learned to read on their own by perusing the pages of Bill Watterson’s comic strips.