So it’s only the mainstream news media and info-outlets that are feeling the pinch of the brutal recession? In news that is now sweeping the Internet with even faster lightning speed than normal, Pajamas Media is letting blogs know that have been receiving its ad revenue that its ad network will cease to exist as it looks into other directions — mostly Internet TV.
The news is creating bitterness among some of the mostly conservative weblogs that had come to rely and expect their blog revenue from the weblog portal and there is reportedly some gloating on the Left.
It’s a sign of the times in more ways than one.
No one is rolling in big bucks these days (except for Exxon and bailed-out CEOs who got bonuses). And it is notable that most advertising in blogs is not what it used to be.
Meanwhile, PJ Media has in many cases aroused strong feelings since it was founded by conservative bloggers and is considered a conservative blogging portal (even though there are some exceptions). Progressives don’t like it or respect it, even though it has some good original reporting and varying viewpoints on some opinion pieces. Conservatives generally like it. Some of the centrist sites (such as this) have linked to it and even have writers (including from this site) who’ve occasionally contributed to it.
Some on the left, right and center remained angry at PJ Media because, early in the game, they had thought about joining and for one reason or other didn’t or weren’t invited. In other words: the very topic of Pajamas Media is a politically-loaded one on the Internet these days.
So rather than jump into a political buzz saw, here’s TMV’s wrap-up of reaction and info about how Pajamas Media, an intriguing idea about how the new media could compete with and offer things in terms of time and content that the old media couldn’t — got hit by the whammy of the recession that is decimating old media advertising dollars that PJ Media had assumed would be there to compete for.
One of its founders, Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit, whose site is now on PJ Media writes:
YEAH, the PJM ad-network model isn’t working. I don’t have much to do with the PJM business side, but online ads just aren’t producing revenue like they were a few years ago, and the blog-network thing was apparently a tough sell. Hence the emphasis on PJTV. How will that work out? Stay tuned.
(UPDATE: Pajamas Media’s founder Roger Simon has issued this explanation in response to the news and resulting criticism — some of it from PJ Media blogs that are quoted below.)
Reynolds, who appears on PJ Media’s Internet TV shows and will be a key part of its future efforts, links to law professor Ann Althouse, who has been a PJ Media critic. She writes, in part:
I usually have 2 or 3 ads running via BlogAds, but haven’t even had 1 ad in the last couple of weeks. You can see why BlogAds is a less risky business. It doesn’t pay you because you have traffic. It pays you because they sold an ad to run on your blog. How much does it pay? When I sell an ad, it pays me a percentage of the price I set myself (and can adjust up or down as I see fit).
…I did some pretty harsh anti-Pajamas blogging back in the day…. It was a huge ideological issue for me at the time: the freedom and independence of bloggers. Looking back on those old posts, I can see I’ve lost some of my lively romanticism about blogging. I had a very intense feeling about how subversive this all was. That somehow went hand in hand with the anticipation of waves of money flowing in — and who would channel more of it to me, [Blog Ads or Pajamas Media]?
But these are hard times for everyone. Any business could fail in this environment. So, what does it say about how good that business model was in the first place? My concern was always, which business model is better for us writers, and I thought it was [Blog Ads].
The key problem now is that in addition to there being an increased interest in and demand for news/editorial content but less willingness to pay for it, now there is less CAPABILITY to pay for the advertising that supports it.
Just as mainstream media types STILL seemingly look down their snoots at bloggers “in pajamas” (it is a phrase STILL used), bloggers look down their snoots at journalism-school-grad mainstream media types who get salaries working for corporations. Both new and old media have recently chased after some of the same revenues. And now both feel some pain. Now, both sides can look at the other and gloat…
How did all of this news of PJ Media giving up a business model ghost burst upon the Internet news scene?
Protein Wisdom ran an email it got from PJ Media founder Roger Simon. Here are key parts of it:
As you know, last September Pajamas Media began a new initiative in Internet television called Pajamas TV. When we started with our RNC coverage from Minneapolis, we noted that we would be in a Beta Phase through the first quarter of 2009. In the last few months we have strengthened the PJTV lineup with shows covering Media Bias, Education Bias, Middle East Update, Sharia and Jihad, Powerline Report, Ask Dr. Helen, Hugh News, Poliwood, Conservatism 2.0, Economy and Finance, National Security, and others.
As the end of the first quarter approaches and we near the production phase of Pajamas TV, we will continue to build our emphasis in this area. As a result we have decided to wind down the Pajamas Media Blogger and advertising network effective March 31, 2009. The PJM portal and the XPressBlogs will continue as is.[Simon then gives the timetable on when PJ Media ads should be removed.]
….We thank you very much for participating during the formative years of Pajamas Media and we look forward to working with you in other ways. One of those is, of course, Pajamas TV. If you have any ideas in that regard, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Protein Wisdom’s Jeff Goldstein then wrote this:
What this means is that as of April 1, I am officially out of work. So save going to a pay model, this site will likely have to shut down.
Small price to pay for helping PJM pick up an audience and credibility during its “formative years.”
There’s more so read the entire letter.
What’s happening with Pajamas Media will be discussed on Internet websites (news and blogs) in coming days, often through each writer’s political prism. But if you slice it all away it is this:
Most weblogs remain labors of love for their owners and not full-time jobs. There are some that are full-time ventures. But there always have been many fine weblogs that are written by people who do it passionately and comprehensively in their spare time or in between other tasks. Pajamas Media’s blogger ad network offered a dream come true for many bloggers. Like so many dreams, it’s gone in the economy’s fetid tsunami. The old media is hit; the new media is hit. Everyone is in the same boat together as the wave hits.
BUT the Internet is still in the Fred Flintstone stage of development, and a broader media that entails traditional print, broadcast, and cell phones is now emerging. The fact is: this is a shakedown period and PJ Media will remain an Internet presence, but not in the way in which some hoped — and on which some writers had relied.
HERE’S A CROSS SECTION OF REACTION:
—Rick Moran of Right Wing Nuthouse, a PJ Media editor, set the record straight that the site itself will NOT vanish and about what bloggers were promised and not promised:
I have received several emails on this news – some of them gloating, some solicitous of my supposed loss of a job. To set the record straight, the ad network that PJ Media supported will cease on April 1. The site itself will continue as before and I will continue as Chicago editor.
I understand why many are angry and upset. I also understand the gloating, although I wonder what empty space in a man’s soul would motivate him to write an email to someone and gloat over their supposed loss of a job. But you get used to that if you make a living on the internet. And since I am still working – and will continue to work at PJM – for the forseeable future, the three gloaters who emailed me about how happy they were that PJ Media was going under and I would be unemployed are now exposed as the idiots and dolts they truly are.
…There seems to be the notion abroad that PJM “betrayed” bloggers who signed up. And this from conservatives on a conservative website? PJM and bloggers like me entered into a contractual business arrangement. The contract simply said that PJ Media would use our websites to place ads while the participating bloggers received renumeration for their consent. There were no promises made in the contract – stipulated or otherwise – that the arrangement would last forever. Bloggers who went with PJM rather than another ad company made a business decision. The market has had its way and has now spoken. How this constitutes a “betrayal” is a mystery.
There’s a lot more so read it in its entirety.
Well, it isn’t just the old media that’s having issues. A few days ago Culture11 folded. Now it looks like Pajamas Media network is shutting down (they’re going to go into vlogging fulltime?). I got a few links from PM back in 2005-2006, very little traffic. It didn’t seem like the aggregation was adding any value to the constituent weblogs. Additionally, a lot of their stuff is 2001-2004 vintage Right-of-Center media commentary, the sell-by date has long passed.
Is not exactly a surprise, because non-profitable operations always burn through their VC money sooner or later. It’s almost always more effective to start an operation that is profitable from the start. Readers with long memories will recall that I never had any interest in what was obviously a ludicrous business proposition.
—Roger Ailes (no, not that one) considers it a “spectacular fail.”
This isn’t even of any interest except to us site owners and patriotic bloggers on the right, but interesting nonetheless.
I personally was never an avid reader at Pajama but it was/is one of the best looking and most well put together sites out there. Everything was perfect and in its place, so I’m sure their admins still have a very bright future ahead of them.
There are a few other sites out there that I lumped together with Pajama in that they were the “blue blood” portion of the right. They were “smarter than everyone else”, very “holier than thou”, and “stand offish”
As if anyone wants to watch TV on the internet. Sheesh.
Though this blog has never been part of the network, the news of the network’s end is disappointing. PM seems to be restricting its “sending the mainstream media down the river…” operation to sanctioned writers on its official news website and talking heads, mostly mainstream, on its official video website.
I, for one, have never taken much interest in PJTV. The price tag, while not outrageous, has been a stumbling block. Even major newspapers have tried that model to no avail. Paying a subscription fee for online commentary seems a bit, well, outdated. Especially when quite a few of the people (Malkin, Green, Spencer, Hinderaker, Hemingway, etc.) on the website’s front page now can be read for free on their own sites.
—The Anchoress (who is a part of PJ Media):
I sort of saw it coming. I’d noticed that PJM was tightening, creating its identity around a crew of established conservative “name” writers and the bigger bloggers, rather than the sprawling mass of bloggers. It was predictable because no entity can remain an amorphous blog blob forever, eventually a thing must become more of what it is, or cease to be.
Also, I noticed that a great deal of PJM’s energy was going toward the PJTV end of it. Not my bag, to be honest. My boredom with “talking head” format, coupled with my deteriorating attention span leads me more to text than video, but I can see where many may believe (perhaps rightly) that text is on the way out and aural/video meets the need for speed and easy digestion.
….It is a little of a bummer, though. I’d finally reached a point where I was breaking $1,000 a quarter in earnings. Yes, it’s a pittance and laughable, but frankly, it was the difference between staying alive as a (mostly) full-time blogger posting daily, or having to find other work and post just a few times a week. I’ll have to re-think the blog a bit, now, and figure out how to either make up for the lost revenue or substantially cut my blogging time, in order to work at something else.
Damn. I was finally starting to make an amount of money I wasn’t utterly embarrassed by, too.
Any entrepreneurs out there who want to try something similar?
In any event, I was happy to be a part of this while it lasted. They did pay good rates, especially lately. And the model for payment was pretty transparent and intuitive — paid per impression. One could figure out one’s quarterly payment just by eyeballing one’s Sitemeter. BlogAds paid okay, but there are always those patches where no one really wants to buy ads, making income kind of unpredictable.
I wonder how much of the money paid out to bloggers came from ad sales, and how much came from the funding from investors, which by some reports reached $7 million. One less-famous name in the network was just starting to make an annualized $4K, which is not trivial but also not going to feed a family.
Opinion mags don’t make money, so it’s not really surprising that opinion blog nets have trouble doing it. I’m not sold on the PJTV model, either.
—Tools of Renewal doesn’t mince words:
In case you haven’t heard, Pajamas Media is finally dead. They’re killing their blog network. Which makes sense, if everything that has been leaked is true. This is probably what’s going on: PJM always lost money, so it was paying people out of venture capital. As the capital dissipated, people had to be fired.
PJM’s new hope is PJTV, a pay video site…..I can’t understand why anyone would think it could succeed. The blogger who told me about the end of PJM’s blog network theorizes that the GOP is making PJM its main Internet outlet. That is highly plausible, in view of the unbelievably stupid things the GOP has done over the last few years. Using PJM to make your party popular on the web is like hiring Andy Dick to do sensitivity training…..
…The left owns the web, and the web demonstrated its power by getting the left’s bizarre, whining, empty-suit President elected. The right, which was largely saved by the web in the pre-2004 era, has completely forfeited. We learned nothing whatsoever from our victories. We are no longer in the game. The inexplicable, shortsighted antics of the PJs are typical of the moves we make.
It seem Pajama Media is kicking out the small fry so they can have more $$$ for themselves…But the fact is traffic is down since the election – way down. And I am sure ads are drying up. And all those living comfortably on the ebb and flow of public debate are hurting. (Thankfully, with the support of our readers, I can fund this personal endeavor here at the Strata-Sphere).
I hope these wonderful voices are not silenced, especially in this time of conservative and GOP renewal. I for one think there are options to make a business in the blogosphere, but the winning models will take some time to work themselves out. After all, this is a brand new enterprise, not even a decade old in reality.
Pajamas Media. If I understand correctly, they’re going to go from being a $7 million wingnut RSS feeder/wingnut BlogAds to a wingnut BloggingHeads. I’m sure that will be equally successful…
Pajamas Media is also on Twitter.
Pajama media is shutting down the blog. I can’t say I am surprised. What a disappointment and enormous waste of precious and rare blog investment.
I was one of the original pajama bloggers. I thought PJM was going to rival AP, UPI, Reuters. Finally, a news portal of citizen bloggers and journalists that would counter the Pali stringers and left wing biased journalists of the news gathering agencies. But PJM went off the rails. Simon decided to chase big names for big money, but to what end? Who needed another NRO or WSJ Best of the Web? And unlike the left, where Soros, Hollywood libtards and Google-type asshats embarrassingly fund the leftwing sites vis a vis Moveon.org et al, the right has none of that. None. We live on fumes. G-d bless our small advertisers and our readers who contribute.
So it was thrilling that someone was bankrolling the original idea. But Pajama never got it, never understood who or what they were. They were compelled to present both sides. Why? The left didn’t have enough – TV, print, cable, left-nets? The idea of balanced coverage was a shoot-yourself-in-the foot strategy. The left owns it all — why couldn’t we have one well financed portal on the web that unabashedly promoted conservative, rational, reasoned arguments and positions with style and chutzpah?
Well, Pajama wasn’t it.
I asked about it, they never responded, what I did not know, is the fact that you had to sign a idiotic contract saying that you would only use them for an ad service. Which I happen to think is extremely stupid. Why limit your customers income? That is quite retarded if you ask me.
Exclusivity has a downside, I hate to say it, but BlogAds is doing the same…,you have to be invited on to use it, and in this economic downturn, elitism is not an opinion, you either have to expand your income potential or you will dry up rather quickly. Not only this, but quite frankly, the Political winds have shifted, big time. Thanks to the beedy-eyed idiot that just want back to Texas, Conservatism has lost its appeal. This is what happens when you base a business model on a political trend. This is why all those souvenir shops in Crawford, Texas, went belly up after the Iraq War turned ugly.
So, while I feel bad for all these people that have lost an income source, I cannot honestly say that I am surprised.
—Poligazette’s Michael van der Galien:
Like every blogger using PJM ads, I received the same email as Goldstein. Although it’s always sad when the time has come for two business partners to go say goodbye and move on, I don’t quite understand how PJM can make anyone feel betrayed. As Rick Moran argues for Right Wing Nut House, PJM and bloggers have a business contract with each other. The one offers the other something, and vice versa. At the time of signing the contract, all involved thought they would be better off. If this system does no longer work (or at least not as well as other business models) for PJM, however, it doesn’t make sense for them to keep pumping money into blogs – not into Ace of Spades, nor into Protein Wisdom, and, finally, not into PoliGazette.
PJM is a business enterprise. Its first and foremost goal is to make as much money, as high a profit as it can. Its managers believe more money can be made by producing more Internet television – PJTV. Whether they are right or wrong remains to be seen. All that matters is that they have every right to change their business model.
—The Gun Toting Liberal has a long post that must be read in FULL. Here’s a tinytaste 4 U:
Gloating about the fall of Pajamas Media (”PJM” or “PM” from here on out) is ill-advised as far as I’m concerned. Far right? Of course, but unlike their MSM brethren from oh, say, Fox News (just an example), they never pretended to be “Fair And Balanced”; they were the “town criers” our Founders gave up the ghost in order to reaffirm their rights to speak freely against tyranny and misdeeds being perpetrated against the People by our government officials. Many mistakenly assume these guys died and/or endured their extreme hardships to protect the “Rupert Murdochs” of today and the multi-national MSM conglomerates. Here’s the REAL answer to that one — BZZZZT!!! We political bloggers, despite the absense of the technologies we have available today, were THE “Press” our Founding Fathers had in mind. Don’t let anybody kid you on that one.
…Well, guess what? I’ve NEVER dropped the “real job” — I’ve been an Operations Manager for a Fortune 500 company ever since I got back from my involuntary one-year activation as a reservist in direct support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. What really surpises me by the PJM crash is when I’ve learned from reading some of the many troubled reactions of some of those directly affected financially, is that even I have been more fortunate to bring income revenues in through The Gun Toting Liberal™ than some of my blogger brethren on that so-called “A-List” of bloggers than many of them are beginning to admit in the wake. In other words, not so much moolah after all.
….The main point is the FACT that we in the Blogospheres are 100% responsible for our own advertising failures. It is WE who attempt to manipulate the potential blog advertiser by pimping our PageRanks, our Technorati (so-called) “authority”, our Alexa Ranking, etc., etc., etc., and try and convince them these are “proof” of the success their campaigns will have? When I say “We”, I’m proud to distance myself from that particular group. I call it “integrity”. The REAL value of a blog’s Technorati “authority” ranking is ZILCH to an advertiser. Same goes for Alexa. Same goes for Google PageRank. Same goes for all of the other so-called “value indicators” a blog can offer to a potential advertiser. If I cared enough to makes this endeavor a revenue-generator capable of feeding myself and my family, I know how to do what all of these so-called “A-List” bloggers do — fudge the hell out of the things needing to be fudged to boost those ratings. NOBODY knows how much traffic The GTL™ does unless I, myself, CHOOSE to offer a login to the stats kept by my underlying web host. SiteMeter? PLEASE. Google Analytics? PLEASE. Misleading determiners of a weblog’s advertising value – ALL of them.
There’s a lot more so be sure to read it all.
UPDATE: Some fresh website and blog reaction is HERE.
UPDATE 2 2/2/09: But did PJ Media’s business model make sense? And could they have done things differently? Donklephant’s Justin Gardner takes a detailed look.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.