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The great thing about a marketplace is, it always tells you when you’re missing the mark.
Ricochet, for instance: we know we’re providing a useful and valuable service, but we also know we need to do better. Our customers — you — tell us that. When we launched the new site, memberships plummeted. When we got our act together, they picked up steam. We’re now growing about as fast as we were before the Great Migration.
Or, take some of our larger colleagues in the media galaxy. CNN, for instance. They and their resolutely progressive counterpart, MSNBC, keep fighting it out for second place among the cable news outlets. From the Hollywood Reporter:
The cable news ratings seesaw for No. 2 has been in MSNBC’s favor for some time, but not in July. CNN reclaimed runner-up status to Fox News Channel for the month by most key measures.
What’s most disconcerting for MSNBC might be its total day average among the news demo of adults 25-54. Dropping 33 percent from July 2013, it actually ranked below HLN by 16,000 viewers for No. 4 status.
Number one, of course, is Fox News. I didn’t have to tell you that.
But it’s interesting to note that CNN and MSNBC duke it out for distant second. CNN, which used to be the market leader, is essentially a dead property. Why? Well, we know why, don’t we? It’s unmitigated drumbeat of left-wing orthodoxy and progressive pro-Democrat propaganda. The market doesn’t dig it, and the market is speaking.
Okay, let’s look at another powerful media property. From the Financial Times, via the economics blog Zero Hedge:
A fall in advertising sales and stepped-up investment in digital products sapped second-quarter profit at the New York Times as the publisher forecast flat circulation revenue and further declines in advertising in the coming months.
Net income of $9.2m, or 6 cents a share, was down 54 per cent from $20.1m, or 13 cents a share, a year ago. Adjusted operating profit, which strips out some one-time items including retirement costs and depreciation, fell 21 per cent to $55.7m.
A trio of digital offerings – the NYT Now app, targeted at mobile users, a standalone opinion app and a higher-priced premium subscription service – helped lift circulation revenues in the quarter. But the company said subscriber growth for its website and core mobile app had flagged, and said it needed to do a better job of marketing its offerings to the right audiences.
The right audiences? Is that a Freudian slip? Because the Times does an excellent job of appealing to the “correct audiences. But it leaves the audiences on the Right in the cold. Perhaps that explains the declines?
Here’s the cruel and effective way the blog illustrates the Times’ decline — revenue from the moment it hired economist Paul Krugman:
Okay, so where’s the good news? Right here: our friends at the Washington Free Beacon have an announcement to make:
Happy news: The Washington Free Beacon is taking its talents to the free market.
Since its launch in February 2012, the Free Beacon has been a project of the Center for American Freedom, a nonprofit that has graciously supported our reporters, editors, and contributors. But we have large ambitions. And in order for the Free Beacon to grow, for it to take its rightful place alongside the New York Times and the Washington Post, it must become a newspaper like any other—online in our case, but making its way in the private sector, funded by investors, sustained by advertisers, and seeking out elusive Mexican oligarchs.
We’re therefore pleased to report that the Free Beacon is now a privately owned, for-profit enterprise.
I say, good for them. Here at Ricochet, we’ll be cheering them from the sidelines, as fellow toilers in the free marketplace. This part, we’re here to tell them, is going to be hard:
As we enter the private sector, we will make sure that incorporating advertising into the website does not become a nuisance to our readers. Indeed, we won’t do anything to distract from the journalism our readers have come to expect, such as our exclusive reporting on Hillary Clinton’s successful defense of a child rapist. This new model should allow us to expand our reporting. It should allow us to better serve the cause of freedom.
But not impossible. Welcome to the playing field, friends. Go get ’em. And when you do, if you want a place for a civil, spirited, smart conversation about it with a lot of passionate and informed center/right troublemakers, come back here.
But you have to be a member. No freebies. This is a business, after all.