John Herrman, who writes about the media industry for The New York Times, is one of my favorite writers. His incisive and cutting commentary at his previous home on the web, The Awl, was on my “read first and do everything else later” list. About 10 days ago, we had a conversation about the shifting media landscape and the harsh reality of the media business.
My parting comment (which he included in the final piece) was that if I were to start a publication, it would be on Facebook (perhaps as a Facebook page). Today I learned that Vox Media is going to launch Circuit Breaker, a gadget blog, as a Facebook-only publication. (It will also have it as a section of The Verge on the web. I call this a web-based backup/archive.)
Despite hand-wringing by traditonalists, I believe Vox’s decision is bold and the right one: In the post-browser-only world, it makes perfect sense to go where the audience lives. I am not clear how well it will monetize this effort. After all, Facebook is a selfish partner when it comes to monetization.
On the other hand, the company could be working with Vox to experiment with Facebook as a publishing platform. And why not? Facebook is rumored to be spending a lot of money on Hollywood celebrities to get them to use the new Facebook Live service. From what I have heard, Hollywood types are smartly taking the money and then moving on to the next thing. Remember, those stars who were paid millions to use Windows Phone or Samsung devices headed straight back to iPhone!
Updated on April 26: So the CircuitBreaker turns out to be a lot less than I had thought and mildly disappointing after yesterday’s buildup. It is nothing more than a page with links to gadget related news on The Verge and it is trying to tap into Facebook’s traffic driving abilities and using Instant Articles technology on the mobile devices. This isn’t Facebook First – and that opportunity still remains wide-open. Dave Winer has more to say here.