It seems the England is the perfect place for a smart, edited blogging network and news aggregation site. There are lots of high-quality news sites to aggregate. There is a highly engaged (and often outraged) readership. There is a growing and increasingly respected blogging community. Isn’t this a huge gaping hole in the media landscape?
As I met with folks at the Guardian, WSJ Europe, Sky, Northcliffe Media someone formerly at News International and more recently the BBC, I asked why this was the case. Surprisingly, none of them had ever even considered the possibility of such a site launching.
When pressed, my interviewees came up with a few theories, none particularly satisfying:
1. The marketplace is already too cluttered. Ten paid dailies, two (or three? I can’t keep track) freebies, BBC, Sky. A new site wouldn’t be able to cut through the clutter and build enough traffic to be profitable
There is clutter for sure, but couldn’t an aggregator find a niche – say football, cricket, fashion, travel, gardening, DIY, film, music, theatre and aggregate content from the other news sites to create the ultimate vertical thus garnering higher CPM’s? How many staffers would you really need?
2. Another take on traffic - Britain isn’t big enough for these sites to achieve scale to build enough traffic to be profitable.
Maybe, but again, costs could be very low, especially if someone went the vertical route. And isn’t at population of 59 million enough to create scale? Not to mention the worldwide traffic British news sites attract.
3. British ad agencies are very focused on MSM, a new site wouldn’t be able to sell ads.
I don’t buy it. What about ad networks? Don’t tell me there’s no ad networks in the UK either?
4. British media still very much falls under “the cult of the editor”. It just hasn’t occurred to anyone that it is possible to create a site not affiliated with a major news organization.
Somehow, I suspect the last theory is the closest to the truth. Of course London is still deep in recession so it is highly unlikely that anyone will start such a site anytime soon. Though I wonder if we’ll see something in a year or two.
Come on Brits! There’s an opportunity here!
And I have one more question. Why the hell do you all keep referring to Fleet Street when speaking about your industry, even though there are no newspapers there anymore?