About about.com

Rafat Ali has the latest on the About.com sale. “One investment banker told me this morning that NYT seems to be the strongest candidate and going very aggressively after it,” he reports at PaidContent.org.

I was going to blog my memory of the the debacle of Primedia’s purchase of About.com, but Rafat points to the blog of Paul Conley (now on my blogroll), a former executive producer at About.com who gives an insiders’ perspective on the weirdness of it all. Read his insights.

Watching Primedia implode was painful to those who watched, especially those who were friends of many of the people who ran its profitable B-2-B
properties. When people were brought in who did not know how to generate revenue, much less generate a profit, and started firing people who did, well, it was merely a matter of time.

As for About.com, I’m in agreement with Jeff Jarvis on this, About.com’s model
is still out of sync with what is taking place with participatory journalism (or, as I call it, conversational media), but out of sync a way that is hard for those who run traditional media companies to understand.

Jeff says:

“If you were starting About.com today, you wouldn’t create a centralized marketplace of cheap content; you wouldn’t hire a bunch of people (even at serf wages) to create the content. Instead, it would make much more sense to start a network of distributed media (yes, blogs): less cost, less risk, greater scale, greater diversity, stronger voice of the
people….”

For any of you traditional media company executives out there thinking, hey, I can create a branded “community” of something and call it blogging, listen to Jeff. I would say listen to me, but Jeff’s the guy who invented the BourboCam.