Four embryonic newsorgs-slash-websites with a Hollywood foundation will be elbowing their way into the mix over the next several months, which of course will make the entertainment news world seem more zippy and exciting and at the same time increase the ad-dollar competition…great. A new Nikki Finke-ish type deal with a staff, a presumably edgy new media-gamer site and two would-be HuffPo hybrids vacuuming left and right. And all four digesting, regurgitating and adding their particular views of the Big Flashy Altogether.
(l. to.r.) Sharon Waxman, Raf Atali, Tina Brown, Bonnie Fuller.
The key element is (a) how much original content, (b) how clear and engaging will their attitude/voice be, and (c) how vigorously will they cover on a 24-7 basis? Running a news/opinion site means one thing for sure, and that’s an absence of any kind of well-nurtured, well-rounded, smell-the-roses lifestyle. It’s like managing a salt mine. If you don’t file on Saturday, don’t bother filing on Sunday.
The most intriguing (or threatening) from my vantage point is Sharon Waxman‘s The Wrap, which will launch in January 2009. Claiming that there’s “a gaping space on the entertainment landscape for smart, sophisticated news and analysis,” she’s raised$500 grand in seed money and is hiring a small staff.
Waxman & Friends intend to bang out original stories and analysis pieces that will compete with the trades, Patrick Goldstein, the New York “Vulture” guys, myself, Anne Thompson, David Poland, Nikki Finke, Stu Van Airsdale‘s dry Defamer postings, the guys at MTV.com, Kris Tapley, Sasha Stone, etc. The more the merrier, right?
Then there’s Rafat Ali‘s Inside.com, a quasi-revival of the titanically-failed entertainment website of yore, funded this time by Guardian Media and intended to cover “gaming and traditional media in addition to digital media.” Wait a minute…gaming? Ali seems to be focusing on a slightly different world than my own. (How many really good gaming sites are at the top of the heap right now? A dozen? Less?)
There’s also Tina Brown‘s The Beast, which “will aggregate news and culture”with “the backing of Barry Diller‘s InterActiveCorp.,” according to Variety‘s Anne Thompson. I think that means a HuffPo thing with an entertainment slant minus original content.
There’s also an upcoming Bonnie Fuller site aimed at women — presumably another outlet for her celebrity-driven, lower-than-low, girly-girl way of processing the entertainment realm — that she’s “still seeking funding for,” says Thompson.
Question: given the decreasing literacy levels out there as well as the instant-gratification, downward-swirl of pop culture these days, how many under-30s are hungering for another website with “smart, sophisticated news and analysis”? Does anyone “do” sophisticated any more? How will “sophisticated” play with the bulky man-beard guys who wear sandals and long shorts and backwards baseball caps?