Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Medium-Sized Publications to Move to Medium

Lucia Moses writing for Digiday:

Eight small independent sites will fully migrate to Medium Tuesday, including The Awl and The Hairpin, sibling sites of The Billfold, which already migrated over last December; plus Pacific Standard, The Black List and Femsplain. Four others are in the pipeline, including Monday Note and NewCo Shift, a new business media brand from John Battelle’s NewCo. Medium also named several sites that will start putting original content there, including Time Inc.’s Money and Fortune and Atlantic Media’s National Journal.

Medium also is announcing new incentives to entice publishers to get on board by making it easy to migrate to the platform, keep their branding intact and generate revenue through memberships that readers would pay monthly through Medium.

All of those publications — the Awl, Monday Note, the Black List, and others — are leaving their own content management systems, many of which they run themselves, for Medium’s proprietary and controlled platform. I imagine this is bittersweet for them — managing and patching a CMS at a large scale can be a daunting task, and the ongoing expenses can be pretty hard to swallow for the fiscally arid media industry.

In many ways, this is similar to WordPress.com’s VIP offering: a managed, hosted, bulletproof platform for publishers who just want to put up their latest listicles. But, while WordPress VIP allows for significant customization on a per-site basis, Medium does not. If you thought that every media website looked the same before, just wait until you see the updated versions of the Black List, Femsplain, and Pacific Standard. Medium says that they’re giving publishers tools for branding their new sites, but I’m not seeing a lot of variation.

And that’s without getting into the very real issue of control. Both Automattic — which offers WordPress VIP — and Medium are VC-backed and, as far as I can tell, are not yet profitable. Propping the struggling news industry up with the support of completely unprofitable Silicon Valley startups seems like it could wreak havoc in the not-too-distant future. But what do I know? Last year, Pixel Envy turned a profit of — and I’m not making this up — thirty-six dollars and seventeen cents. Canadian.

But that’s still more than Medium makes in a year.