If you haven’t noticed, the City Paper’s in a bit of a bind. Their parent company has entered bankruptcy, staff cutbacks were threatened, and then rescinded, and now the City Paper’s cover story is in mortal danger.
How does the City Paper respond?
By dissing their readers in a 5,000 word cover story about why their reader-base is forcing them into the poor house. Or the pour-house. Their argument? People prefer blogs and new media to their extensive stories based on their crack investigative team. Shocking. Case in point, their Livingston-award winning story on the arsonist who terrorized neighborhoods in DC over a series of months getting just 5,000 pageviews while a story on Barack Obama’s spittle got them 13,000 pageviews.
No one knows this better than us. The Coffee Kerfuffle back in late July? 16,000 pageviews. Several of our great features? Under 3,000 pageviews. So, yeah, we understand how unpredictable the web is. That’s the joy of it all. Now, I recognize that the City Paper is a business, and it’s their job to make money. That’s our challenge, too. While we’re ad-free now, it’s not going to be that way forever. We just haven’t decided how to do it, yet.
I feel kinda bad for them. They seem to think that the internet came busting on into their office and crapped on their perfectly nice business model. To some extent, they’re absolutely right. But, this is the modern era, and when someone craps in your house, you have to clean it up. So, I suspect this is just the bitching phase from Wemple and his cadre of entitled journalists, upset that they’re being displaced a bit by new media that hasn’t figured out their own business models just yet.
What I can tell you? Four clickthrough pages of faux legalese blaming the readership? Yeah, that’s not going to play well. That’s a pretty shitty underhanded tactic to get you to click through several of their ads and pump their pageviews numbers up even higher. It’s not like the City Paper’s any different from all the other newspapers trying to figure out how to make money online.
Welcome to the club, guys. May the best publication win. And recognize that your competition isn’t who you think it is.