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Imagine! Asking for $10 Million-Plus to Start a Dweebsite!

How Ezra Klein learned he isn’t a star after all.

January 21, 2014 By Denny Hatch
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Ezra Klein, an analyst, columnist and television commentator who runs The Washington Post's Wonkblog, is making plans to leave the newspaper after failing to win support for a new website he wanted to create within the company, according to four people with knowledge of the negotiations. —Ravi Somaiya, The New York Times

Insiders reported Klein asked The Washington Post's new owner—Amazon's Jeff Bezos—and publisher Katharine Weymouth for an investment "in eight figures." (That's $10 million or more!) They
turned him down.

Golly gee. Why would Jeff and Katherine do that?

Quite simply, they looked at Klein's track record.

A 2-Letter Word in the Times Lede Says It All
Ezra Klein, an analyst, columnist and television commentator ...

Were Ezra Klein a nationally recognized star journalist—like Bob Woodward, Andrew Ross Sorkin or Tom Friedman—Ravi Somaiya's lede might have been:

Ezra Klein, the analyst, columnist and television commentator ...

Alas, Ezra Klein is a minor media figure—a columnist and blogger for a sick newspaper (The Washington Post) and occasional guest-host on teensy-weensy MSNBC (average prime time viewership 640,000).

When Klein revamped his blog in 2011, he got coverage in New York Magazine. The title of Joe Coscarelli's story: Ezra Klein's New Wonkblog Is Standing Proud for 'Boring Nerds Who Like Charts'

Now Ezra Klein wants $10 million-plus to create a brand new website "dedicated to explanatory journalism on a wide range of topics beyond political policy."

In other words an audience of policy wonks, political junkies and dweebs.

My opinion:
  • These are not folks who would likely pay cash money for a subscription. Their mantra: All information should be free.
  • Nor are they juicy free-spending consumers that advertisers are salivating to reach.
  • Explanatory journalism on a wide range of topics beyond political policy is—to be charitable—an anemic Unique Selling Proposition (USP) with nothing unique about it.
What's more, in terms of competition on the Web, Ezra Klein's current Wonkblog sucks hind tit.


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