A breath of fresh air from Nick Denton

Courtesy of Steve Rubel at Micropersuasion — who seems to catch things before just about anyone (including me) — I came across a piece in the New York Times about Nick Denton selling off some of his Gawker Media blogs and reassigning various bloggers from other properties. According to the story, he has put Sploid — a tabloid-style blog — on the block, along with Screenhead, which was devoted to online video and other new media, and has reassigned bloggers at Gawker itself as well as Wonkette and Gizmodo.

The always refreshingly — even brutally — honest Denton says that events such as PaidContent.org’s wildly popular recent blog mixer make him nervous. “It made me want to move to Budapest, batten down the hatches and wait for the zombies to run out of food,” he told the Times. Nick has regularly made comments about how the blog explosion is overrated, and some of that is no doubt intended to keep as many competitors away from the field as possible (Jeff Jarvis says Nick practices “reverse hypology”). But he is also quite right that blog networks such as Gawker, just like regular media, have to be ruthlessly managed.

In many ways, Denton’s Gawker.com stable — much like Jason Calacanis’s very similar Weblogs Inc., now owned by AOL — are more like traditional magazines than they are like blogs. They have short items posted regularly, just like blogs, and they often have personality and a point of view just like blogs, but many of them don’t accept comments (Valleywag makes you apply to be a member who can comment) and don’t really have a sense of community about them.

I’m not saying any of that is bad — I’m just saying they are very much like magazines, and magazines need to be ruthlessly managed and pruned. And as Nick points out, online magazines are even more vulnerable than the print kind. “The barrier to entry in Internet media is low,” he said. “The barrier to success is high.” The Huffington Post’s Eat The Press site has more on the personnel changes at Gawker, including internal memos and a preview of a post from Nick, in which he says (among other things) “Better to sober up now, before the end of the party.”

Wise advice.

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