The Fall of Mic Was a Warning
August 3, 2019 6:39 PM   Subscribe

It's been a hard year for new media blogging empires, which has reaped a bumper crop of case studies on how millenial-targeted, VC-funded media properties, rise, fail, and fall. In addition to the G/O Media / Spanfeller case [covered here yesterday], join the HuffPo on the shuttering of Mic and The Cut on the collapse of, breaker of the Aziz Ansari #metoo story.
posted by workingdankoch (11 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Seize the Media
The current state of digital media in the US is, in a word, tumultuous. It’s never been what anyone would call stable, really, and has always been as exploitative as one might expect from an industry beholden to both capitalism and the whims of billionaires—but for a while there, it looked as though the Vices and Buzzfeeds of the world would at least be lucrative. Digital media was going to revolutionize the news, they said; it was going to change everything. And it did, for some people—the bosses, CEOs, and founders. Unfortunately for them (and far more unfortunately for all the people they’d been underpaying and overworking from the jump), a genuinely sustainable business model remains digital media’s Moby Dick. Chasing ad dollars through a maze of Facebook boosts and Google ad buys became too difficult, so when older media capitalists like Rupert Murdoch and Disney came calling, the top brass betrayed their millennial image by actually picking up the phone
posted by Space Coyote at 7:24 PM on August 3, 2019 [3 favorites]

*drops mic*
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:25 PM on August 3, 2019

That June, PolicyMic rebranded simply as Mic after buying the domain for $500,000, according to company sources

I... I can't read any further.
posted by gwint at 7:55 PM on August 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

> PolicyMic rebranded simply as Mic after buying the domain for $500,000, according to company sources

Just as most VC-funded startups have moved away from bothering to get their .coms. Why not or or or whatever?

There's such a difference when you read about how so many print publications started on a shoestring budget, even if their founders weren't particularly poor. And it's not like all this VC money is going to excess compensation for the staff.
posted by smelendez at 8:25 PM on August 3, 2019

"In another chat, a male co-worker gave Herrmann a joking nickname that rhymed with editor-in-chief (one that he’d used for an editor-in-chief at an earlier job, too)."

What was the rhyme? "Fucker of beef?" "He likes a queef?"
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:43 PM on August 3, 2019 [3 favorites]

posted by whitewall at 12:04 AM on August 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

I read PolicyMic fairly regularly but gave up on the site pretty quickly when it became
posted by octothorpe at 4:39 AM on August 4, 2019

I was an undergrad when PolicyMic turned into Mic, and I got increasingly distressed at the pace that journalists of color, of my age, were to expected to hyper-perform, to the point where I was okay giving up my dream to contribute to them, even in the face of trying to fight in a really white media landscape. Even trying to write one article that I never ended up submitting made me cry for two weeks and seek out intensive therapy after. While I'm sad about this dying, I also believe fervently in defending the rights of content creators to healthy and equitable workplaces.
posted by yueliang at 2:47 PM on August 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

Pacific Standard to close Friday
posted by The Whelk at 1:42 PM on August 7, 2019

"When I think about things that grow that wildly and that successfully, I don’t think of a media company ― I think of cancer."Esther Bergdahl, former Mic employee

And just like a cancer the company didin't seem to care if it's hosts (journalists) survived.


"During the reporting process, which took several months, Bustle Digital Group, through its lawyers, threatened to sue HuffPost’s parent company if we published this story."

Independent fact checked Journalism is important, but the Mic sounds like it was misery machine churning out clickbait at the expense of peoples health. They started off not paying contributors despite swimming in VC money. The people at the top got rich off of squeezing the people of the bottom.
posted by Faintdreams at 9:17 AM on August 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

I obviously don't know much about the real-world economics, but I wonder how hard it would be to stay in business as a hardscrabble site with like 5 reporters/writers making $60K/yr salary and just knocking decent pages out every day. Maybe even some comics on Sunday. Hosting costs and technical overhead in general could be kept very, very low, even with a lot of success.
posted by rhizome at 10:44 AM on August 10, 2019

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