Marshalling A New Era Of Ownership
Choire hoists the standard:
At a bar last night, I was talking to someone smart who made an excellent point: that a very quiet, revolutionary act in the history of publishing had just taken place. (This person compared this moment to Gutenberg, which might be a little bit far afield but not that far off!) That is that Joshua Micah Marshall is hiring a publisher for Talking Points Memo, the blog he started all on his own in 2000, a bit before all the warbloggers like Jeff Jarvis and Glenn Reynolds came onto the Internet, and four years before Michelle Malkin. (Oh yes, how soon we forget.) My friend’s point was: here is an editor, who built and owns his publication, who is now going to be the editor-owner, who will employ the publisher. For those of you who have worked at any sort of publication, the implications of this are staggering.
For instance, pretty much everything that is wrong with the Washington Post is driven by issues of ownership and control; the financial operation of the newspaper exercising control over editorial. (In this case, as so often happens, the executive editor of that paper, Marcus Brauchli, has some sort of weird, terrible, degrading Stockholm Syndrome relationship with the publisher-owner-corporation as well, and it is destroying the paper.)
Now that anyone can own a publication just by sweat equity, what will happen when the publishers actually report to the editor-owners? Yes, I am pretty much expecting a grand utopia, and perhaps I will be disappointed. But it’s high time media publishingwhere, nearly everywhere across the industry, the business side that has failed so utterly at its duties is currently squeezing every last bit of blood out of editorialtried something different.