When I was in Seoul, there was this nebulous little group of creative-types who were doing Broad City-like videos with their phones 15 years ahead of their time. It just occurred to me that it would be cool if you did something like that today. Or, put another way, I think there’s both an audience and a marketplace for something of a micro-video version of Gawker.
If I lived in New York City (which I don’t) and if I had money (which I don’t) I would found a Website devoted to combining the best of The Daily Show and Broad City. Instead of fictional little adventures around New York City, I would find really funny young people to do field pieces about “real” street news.
These field pieces would be no more than two or three minutes long and would have a blog post associated with them that would flesh out the story for nerds who would actually like to, like, read and stuff. The trick is, of course, to find really funny young people who are so young that they aren’t already going the YouTube star route out of UCB.
Anyway, absolutely no one listens to me and I’m just letting off steam while I charge my batteries to get back to writing my novel.
Here’s the video where I gradually came up with this idea.
Executive Summary:Since the demise of both The Village Voice and Gawker, a market and audience in New York City is currently being completely unserved.
I do not live in New York City.
Let me repeat — I do not live in New York City.
Having said that, I was recently in the city New Year’s Day and I found myself in a nice dive bar in the East Village, the name of which eludes me. While I was there, I was wasted and I had an “ah-ha” moment — right now, there’s no small gritty publication that covers New York City that is known outside of the city itself or individual neighborhoods that micro publications might cover.
As such, the following is not even a daydream. It’s more of an idle observation about the state of the publishing world in New York City. As of right now, there’s a young, hip audience in New York City (one that frequent sets trends nationally) that is not being served in a manner that is known outside the confines of the city itself.
I’m not saying I’m the person to fix that issue because, well, like I mentioned, I don’t live in the city. What’s more, I don’t have any money and don’t really know anyone in the city. I do, however, have a unique skill set that if I was to magically find myself in the city for, say, six months, I feel could probably endup in something pretty cool happening.
But absolutely no one, but no one, owes me anything, so the following is more about me letting off steam while I develop a novel that any belief that it will cause anyone to help me out. I have a proven track record in strategic thinking when it comes to a publication, in the guise of the late, great ROKon Magazine in Seoul about 10 years ago.
All this verbiage is me simply me realizing that an audience and its associate market is currently not being served in any demonstrable manner. Of course, there are two things that are causing this — one is the Web is mature. Blogs really don’t have the cultural cache that they used to have because of the other big issue — the diffuse nature of social media.
What young people used to find on a site like, say, Gawker, they now find on Twitter or whatever video platform of the moment they might be interested in. So, in a sense, this post is more about me lamenting my lost youth than anything else, I guess.
I would idly note that you might be able to game the system by doing essentially a zine at first that you handed out in front of major publications around the city and then once it got some attention then you could launch it as a Website.
But it’s just fun to think about.
No one owes me — or anyone else — anything. And besides not having any money, not living in the city and not having any contacts in the city, the entire idea of a blog is now kind of passe.
Anyway. Maybe this blog post will inspire someone else to do what I can’t.
Shelton Bumgarner is a writer and photographer living in Richmond, Va. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail (dot) com.
I’m just idly avoiding developing a novel at this point on a sunny summer afternoon, so indulge me. The only way to establish a new online media Website is to completely break the mold. I’ve talked at great length about social media platform based on the concepts of Usenet, but it seems as though there is only one niche that it would actually work with.
If you were going to start a new Website like, say, Gawker, it just wouldn’t work in the traditional sense. The Web has grown too large and apps like Facebook and Twitter have segmented the online media world to such an extent that it’s pretty pointless to throw the necessary money at a blog to grow it into something like what Gawker used to be.
But what if you managed to buy the Gawker domain name, what could you do with it? It has an established mind-share, so it would really help in starting a new site. But don’t try to bring back the old Gawker, do something revolutionary. Use my concept of a social media network based on the concepts of Usenet to completely disrupt how we think of online content delivery.
You get a small, young passionate group of writers to churn out snarky material that doesn’t go into a blog, but starts threads in this new social media service. If you did it right, the service could be quite successful in my opinion. It would be hailed as the “Uber for online news” by the industry press. This concept is so obvious that it’s sad no one will ever do anything with it. I could go into an enormous amount of detail about this all, but I’ll refrain.
It’s times like these when I wish Gawker still existed. Gawker was felled, as you may recall, by its sheer hubris. It did not take very seriously a lawsuit funded by Peter Thiel. As the lawsuit progressed, Nick Denton, Gawker’s founder and publisher, couldn’t or wouldn’t realize struck at the very heart of his publication.
But the issue for me is that Gawker is sorely needed right now in this era of Trumplandia. I have romanticized Gawker’s golden age a great deal, but I still would like to think that if golden age Gawker would alive in this surreal age that we live in that the pee-pee tape would probably be on FOX News by this point.
The old Gawker really had a lot of spunk. You got the sense that you were hanging out with a really smart old friend who had seen all, done all and always had a smartass answer to the even the most jaded of events.
And, yet, over the years Gawker lost its way. It didn’t seem to have the spunk that it had when it first came out. It became less a really cool friend with something to say and more of an angry person drunk of success and arrogance.
The only thing is, Gawker was a one-stop-shop for the kind of content I was interesting reading. I can honestly say that since Gawker’s untimely demise, I don’t read any Websites except for Twitter and Facebook. What’s worse, it’s unlikely that any site will take Gawker’s place. The age of blogs is long dead and it’s highly unlikely you could start a new Gawker-like blog. The web universe is simply too large now and the money isn’t there anymore.
So, we’re just going to have to deal with the toxic waste of Twitter I guess. But for those of us who remember Gawker, we will have fond memories if nothing else.
I was a huge fan of Gawker for much of its existence and was greatly sadden to see it die an untimely death. Though, I must note, it died in large part because of its own self-importance and arrogance. Had it been a little bit more humble when it was needed, it would probably still be in existence today. And in its later years the site had strangly lost its way. It was adrift and had been stripped of its charm to become just nasty for the sake of being nasty.
So, right now, two things are true. The guy who killed Gawker — Peter Thiel — is interested in buying its corpse so he can do God-only-knows what with it. Meanwhile, vile piece of shit Steve Bannon is out of a job. It seems like a perfect fit: Thiel buys the Gawker domain name and puts Bannon in charge of it. I would wince if this were to happen, but it would make a lot of sense.
It probably won’t happen. I hope it doesn’t happen. But who knows. Only time will tell.
As I keep saying, I’m hard at work on a novel about this bizarre era we live in, so I kind of have all of this on the brain right now. Here are two things I’ve mentioned before that The Resistance needs that I will review.
1. A Gawker-Like Website
The Resistance needs a Gawker-Like — or Spy Magazine — for this era. We need a go-to site for woke commentary in blog form about what’s going on in this era. Trump isn’t going anywhere and the sooner we understand that, the better. It seem as though some people think they shouldn’t start anything that would help The Resistance because they think Trump is going to resign or be impeached sometime soon. That just isn’t going to happen. I have suggested Playboy could be the media organization that would most benefit from such a thing, but it doesn’t seem they’re going to pay me any attention or even know that I’m talking about it.
2. A Twitter Killer
We need a better mousetrap. Twitter is great in some ways, but a real pain in the but Trump became president, in part, because of his use of Twitter. All of this is insane. We need something that uses the concepts of the old Usenet from 20 years ago in a modern way. At least I thin we do.
Anyway, no one cares. No one is listening to me. We’re going to just suffer as the Trump era grinds on and nothing changes, except for the worst.
I have spoken at length about this before, but I really enjoy this topic, so I will come at it from a slightly different angle. I have written about how I think a startup blog should try to be the Spy Magazine-like Anti-Axios of our day. A neo-Gawker, if you will.
And, yet, I suspect that due to the changing nature of the broader Internet, that’s just not going to happen. No one with the means, motive and opportunity is going to invest in such an idea simply because Twitter exists and the blog universe has become so large and saturated that it would be difficult for such a person to see any immediate ROI. Or something like that.
So I turn my attention, again, to Playboy.
It just makes too much sense for Playboy to throw everything up in the air and completely switch gears. It makes too much sense for it to hire a bunch of Jezebel writers and turn Playboy.com into the biting political site that we’ve all been looking for. I really enjoy what The Atlantic has been producing and Crooked Media does a good job, but it is, to date, a podcasting company. It just doesn’t seem all that interested in doing what I want.
But Playboy not only has an existing audience, it has a name brand that is already associated with liberal progressive causes. And it’s really, really desperate to be relevant again. Doing as I suggest would do just that. It would really get people buzzing again about the brand and I feel the market would be there, as well.
It’s possible, though, that what I want is not something a legacy brand can provide. It could be that only a startup could do it. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for someone to see what I see. Maybe they never will.
Right now, as best I can tell, there isn’t a site online devoted to snarky take-downs of Trumplandia and its citizens. For serious journalism, you go to The New York Times or The Washington Post, for liberal hand-wringing about Trumplandia, you go to The New Yorker or New York Magazine.
But there isn’t the type of site I want to read. I want to read a Gawker-like site devoted to thoughtful, yet angry and snarky diatribes about Trumplandia. As the days pass, I find the absence of such a site more and more odd. It’s curious, to say the least. Such an absence may say more about the blog industry than it does the the opportunity to serve that market and audience.
In other words, it could be that the blog industry is so dead in some ways because of saturation that it just doesn’t make economic sense to found the type of startup I suggest. It could be that all the energy that would otherwise be devoted to founding a startup to address Trumplandia in a snarky manner is instead finding an outlet on Twitter.
It could be that Twitter, in a sense, killed the blogging star. Maybe people would rather hash out Trumplandia’s near daily scandal explosions in real time on Twitter rather than read a 500 or 1000 word piece about how we’re all going to hell and there’s nothing we can do about it.
Or it could be that I’m just being really impatient. I started The Trumplandia Report for no other reason than I, myself, wanted this content to read and also I just wasn’t able to properly express myself on Twitter using threads. I needed space to stretch out and a traditional blog seemed the way to go.
Having said all that, I wish someone would found the type of site I want. I can write on this blog all I want to, but very few people, in real terms, are reading it and there’s little I can do at the moment to fix that given my limited personal resources.
It will be very interesting to see how all of this works out. It is odd that there is this gaping hole in the media ecosystem that no one, as of yet, has filled. Right now, if you want want I am suggesting, you watch Stephen Colbert’s monologue or listen to something like Pod Save America.
I guess what I want is a Pod Save America in text that comes out on a regular basis during the course of the day. So, in that sense, it may be up to someone like the folks at Crooked Media to make my personal dream a reality.
Shelton Bumgarner is the editor and publisher of The Trumplandia Report. He can be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com.
No one is reading this blog. No one. Less than 10 people right now read it on any day and it’s unlikely that is going to change anytime soon. I just don’t have the resources to promote it and grow it and, honestly, I’m probably not quite the right guy to do what needs to be done: found a Gawker-like startup devoted to picking apart Trumplandia. This is for no other reason than I didn’t go to an Ivy League school and I don’t live in New York City if no no other reasons.
Given that the system completely failed us over the last 18 months and gave birth to Trumplandia in the first place, it is now up to civil society to pick up the slack. It is interesting that comedy, not journalism — online or otherwise — has not done this as much as you might expect. Yes, The Washington Post and The New York Times seem to be in an old fashion newspaper war, but there really isn’t a site online that sticks out as a place for “real news” and commentary about Trumplandia.
It would be cool if there was a site that generated buzz by eviscerating Trumplandia and its perfectly horrid cast of characters. There obviously is both a market and an audience for that online and it wouldn’t require that much of investment of resources to pull it off if you had enough vision.
My vision for things would be a site a lot like the old Gawker.com that tore into Trumplandia on a regular basis and generated buzz by being the opposite of Axios. But really tearing into Trumplandia in a serious, straight journalistic manner with a bit of wit and snarkiness. That would be really cool and I think it would be an instant hit.
It is interesting how civil society has responded to the rise of Trumplandia. It’s interesting that Twitter seems at the epicenter of the rage a lot of people like me feel towards Trumplandia. But I would suggest that comes more from there not being a Gawker-like site for them to read than anything else.
If such a site was started, I would definitely suggest it lean on video a lot. I think the modern media consumer expects video to be a part of any offering.
Anyway, it pains me that I won’t be able to be the guy to do it. I just don’t have any money. I have the experience and talent — to some extent — and I definitely have the vision to do it. But, as I just said — no money. I can have all the vision I want, but if I can’t pay people to help me out, squat is going to happen.
So, I am going to just keep writing on this blog for my own enjoyment.