Gawker’s New Media Model: Have Advertisers Edit Content

How’s this for a business model for new media? Have people talk about products, and let the corporations who make the products pay to control the conversation.

That’s Gawker‘s new sure-fire money-making scheme, according to CJR (5/24/12), which quotes a memo from the media gossip site: “In two years, our primary offering to marketers will be our discussion platform.” CJR explains that people mainly read Gawker for the snarky comments, so site founder Nick Denton is planning on virtually doing away with posts:

Expect Gawker‘s blog posts to get shorter, in future, and sometimes just be a headline, at least in the first instance, so that the conversation can get going before a pretty post can be put together. And if Denton’s scheme goes according to plan, when you follow a link to a Gawker website, it will often–or maybe even usually–be a link to a comment, rather than to an original post.

This will help Denton pursue his dream of not having to pay anyone for content. But Gawker still has to make money, right? The solution: Sell corporations the right to edit the comments:

If an advertiser buys a sponsored post–and sponsored posts have been part of Gawker‘s menu of offerings for some time now–then once the new commenting system is in place, the advertiser will have a reasonably large degree of control of the conversation that most people see in that post….

The idea is to get challenger brands, in particular, to take part: They tend to be very open and transparent about what they’re up to, and they love the idea of engaging with the public as much as possible, if they can do so in a reasonably controlled environment.

So the new Gawker will involve people talking about corporate products in a “reasonably controlled environment”–controlled, that is, by the product manufacturers. Does that sound like fun to you? Maybe if your the sort of person who goes to shopping malls for the architecture.

But it’s got to be the ultimate fantasy for corporate media owners: having advertisers pay to edit copy for you that your audience wrote for free. Ka-ching!

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.