Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Conservative Media Consolidation

Don't look now, but Salem Communications which locally owns WIND, has become a major player in the conservative media world. TPM has the details, but these are the highlights...

Last week, with two high-profile acquisitions, a conservative media company catapulted itself from successful but largely below-the-radar company to a player with a portfolio that could make it the next news empire on the right. Salem Communications, which got its start in the 1980s in talk radio, formally announced its purchase of Twitchy, the conservative social media tracker founded and run by Michelle Malkin. It also reportedly finalized a deal to acquire Red State, best known for the punditry of its editor-in-chief Erick Erickson, and several affiliated properties in January. Both moves were first reported by BuzzFeed.

The audience numbers are significant: Twitchy self-reports 12 million unique page views per month, and BuzzFeed reported that Eagle Publishing's properties, led by Red State, attract five million page views per month combined. New audiences could also mean more email addresses to sell to advertisers, a reportedly major part of TownHall's and other conservative outlets' revenue stream. The terms of the sales were not disclosed. The addition of Regnery Publishing, which is a part of Eagle Publishing, gives Salem the opportunity for "full-brand management": radio, digital and book deals can all co-exist under one roof. That is critical in the current cross-promotional, multi-platform media environment.

This is how the conservative media world works. This is considered a "news empire". The stories they report originate from one of these internet sites (or one of their published books), then they become fodder for the talk radio shows which they also own, who promote the internet sites and the books, which in turn make them money on several platforms, and build their e-mail lists to make even more money in the future. It's a great business model.

It also, not so coincidentally, serves the needs of getting the consersative message out in a way that won't encounter any challenges. Obviously these stories must be true. They are being reported on multiple platforms and multiple media outlets, right? When I talk about being "inside the conservative media bubble" that's what I'm referring to. It seems like everyone is saying or thinking what conservatives believe because there are so many platforms saying it--but when you scratch below the surface you find that there are very few originators, and they are all pollinating the various platforms. That's what leads to genuine surprises like the last presidential election. They had no idea what was happening outside the bubble.