Do Gooders Get Together

Ben Popken, editor of The Consumerist has a new boss and a new (and improved) salary to go along with it.
According to The New York Times, Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine is buying the site from Gawker Media.

Consumers Union is seeking to attract younger readers, with the hope of eventually selling them online or print subscriptions to Consumer Reports.
It is also something of a logical fit. Consumer Reports does not accept advertising, and once the sale closes on Jan. 1, neither will Consumerist.
“When Consumers Union was formed, it was a pretty snarky, aggressive organization that took on big organizations just like Consumerist is doing today, it’s just going to an audience that we basically don’t reach,” Consumers Union’s executive vice president, John Sateja said. “It may not be language or voice or style that Consumers Union has, in recent years, become accustomed to, but it is part of the roots of the organization.”

Consumers Union was founded in 1936 when advertising first flooded the mass media. Consumers lacked a reliable source of information they could depend on to help them distinguish hype from fact and good products from bad ones.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Definitely good compared to the Consumerist going away. However, I’m personally concerned about this purchase.
    I operate, which provides vehicle reliability information. Our information has two large advantages over that of Consumer Reports:
    1. Report actual repair rates, not just vague dots, to make the differences between models much clearer.
    2. Results promptly updated four times a year; so our information averages about ten months ahead of CR’s.
    But, since we’re a competitor, you’ll never see CR mention our information, and I’m personally not allowed to mention my site in their forums–even when I have information that they cannot provide. Now that they’ve bought the Consumerist, I suspect the same will be true for it.
    Quite a few times a journalist has told me that he can’t write about the unique information offers car buyers, because part of what the site offers competes with information offered by their employer.
    In other words, from where I sit media consolidation isn’t a good thing. Each media outlet has its own interests, and these come before the interests of readers. The larger these outlets get, the broader their interests get, and the more delimited their reporting gets.