Word on the street is San Francisco-based online magazine, Salon.com, is on the market.
Adweek, for one, asks, “Who will buy Salon.com?”
News that Salon is in play after 15 years of independence underscores the near impossibility of being a stand-alone news site that’s wholly dependent on advertising. On top of that, Salon trades in long-form content on a platform that caters to short attention spans, while facing growing competition for eyeballs.
The thought is a bigger fish (with a tolerance for losses) will come by and swallow Salon.com whole, because the site has cultivated an audience that appeals to advertisers. But if that’s the case, why can’t Salon.com provide those advertisers the value they seek directly?
I don’t have the answer, but one guy who does have answers to new media questions of this sort is Nick Denton of Gawker Media. Speaking on stage at Business Insider’s Ignition Conference last week, Denton said, “Every page, every headline, every bit of content should be designed for somebody who has never been there before. I think the Web, Web media went down a dead end and became too preoccupied with the core audience, with core readers, with people who commented, people who emailed in, people who made a noise, and lost sight of the fact that the growth was going to come from readers that weren’t familiar with the back story. And that weren’t patient enough to to read through that long, long scroll. That’s something we’re trying to rediscover now, the virtues of media that can be consumed by a first timer.”
Denton also talks about Gawker editors not paying as much attention to commenters who could “keep us in a little ghetto and not allow our sites to grow and become mass audience brands.”
So much for the love of community. The need to serve a mass market is where the players play.