Yesterday the owner of The Tracking Board, producer Rock Shaink, Jr., whacked the newsroom and shut the site down. Editor-in-chief Jeff Sneider, chief film critic Drew McWeeny and film reporter Ed Douglas have all been cut loose.
I don’t know how and where TTB’s CEO & founder Chris Contreras fits into this, but the site is definitely kaput.
Sneider broke the news yesterday afternoon on Twitter, stating that “my time as an Editor-in-Chief has come to an end, as the newsroom has been disbanded. I’d like to thank the site’s owner for taking a chance and giving me this incredible opportunity, which has been a really valuable learning experience, one I’ll always be grateful for.”
The site currently says “as we prepare to share a new partnership rollout, we’ll be experiencing limited posts over the next few weeks, but will be featuring a new spec book, Launch Pad Feature & Pilot announcements, and the new annual spec book!”
Obviously Shaink and Contreras, who stalled for months and months to change the name of the site to The Industry, felt that they were losing too much money because ad revenues were too low and that their goals in that realm didn’t seem achievable within the right time frame.
Sneider was made editor in January of ’17; Douglas and McWeeny were hired last fall. It just seems weird to launch a serious effort like this, trying to compete for a piece of the advertising pie that is more or less owned by Penske Media, The Hollywood Reporter and TheWrap, hiring name-brand contributors and then abruptly pulling the plug 15 months after it begins…WHAM. It suggests that Shaink is an impulsive or whimsical fellow, not a long-game player.
The Ankler‘s Richard Rushfield: “The Tracking Board was some semi-legit producer” — presumably Shaink — “who was operating it out of his house. He had the notion for a script tracking board, and when that didn’t turn into riches, he thought he’d make it a general trade site, putting in some money to it but not enough to really muscle your way into a seat at the table alongside Penske and THR.
“A lot of these wheeler-dealers think that hiring a handful of youngish writers is an easy ticket to web riches, but they do so with no understanding for what it takes to make an editorial site succeed in any sector, so the whole thing seemed like a very long shot when Jeff described it to me. Those wheeler dealers usually get tired of spending money very quickly when millions don’t just fall into their laps, and move on to some other crackpot scheme somewhere else.”
It isn’t easy making decent coin off a movie site. Every year Sasha Stone and I struggle to lock in ad revenue, and the only reason we’re still afloat is because we’re influential and established voices and because, in my case anyway, name-brand, steel-backboned directors and producers stand up for HE and say “do well by this guy…he’s good people and understands what we’re trying to do.”