The City Paper Whines, “It Came From Planet Blog!”

Chloe the kitten monster! by faeryboots

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 Their parent company has entered bankruptcy, staff cutbacks were threatened, and then rescinded, and now the City Paper’s cover story is in mortal danger.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.

I live and work in the District of Columbia. I write at We Love DC, a blog I helped start, I work at Technolutionary, a company I helped start, and I’m happy doing both. I enjoy watching baseball, cooking, and gardening. I grow a mean pepper, keep a clean scorebook, and wash the dishes when I’m done. Read Why I Love DC.

Facebook Twitter Flickr 

4 thoughts on “The City Paper Whines, “It Came From Planet Blog!”

  1. “I suspect this is just the bitching phase from Wemple”

    Yes, just a “phase” that has been going on for how long?

  2. Craigslist is what really killed the Citypaper. Remember when it was the the place to find an apartment or a couch? And back in the day, before, their personals were always a joy to browse.

    Without the revenue and readership those two brought, the CityPaper is cool, but not longer a cornerstone of DC living.

  3. Indeed, Wayan. And while it sucks to be the business whose model gets replaced by something newer and shinier, and it sucks even MORE to be a person who works for that business, it DOES happen (blah blah buggywhip makers), and you can either whine about it and complain that your readers don’t read enough, or you can sack up and adapt. It’s called a market economy. It’s also called evolution.

    And WaPo has taken the opposite tack- they realized the one area where they really COULD compete with online sources was in in-depth, investigative reporting that requires newsroom resources that your average blogger or news aggregator doesn’t have. And while there’s still some belt-tightening, it seems to be working for them. That strategy may not be what the audience of an alt-weekly wants, but surely there must be SOMETHING they can do better than anyone else.

  4. You know a niche than no one can touch (and the CP dropped) is local news. Hyper-local. Look at the NW Current and its sister publications. No one has more dirt on neighbours that they do. And its a remarkably profitable chain (or so I read in a CP story on them).

    The CP owns DC politics (or did) with Loose Lips. That’s one area they could still own and make money from if the cared to focus on it. DC has enough drama for at least one paper that spins that drama into rights in TV show ideas, books, etc. If they were creative that is…