Journalism Jobs founder: ‘It’s been a great ride’

We all know about the layoffs and buyouts, but the journalism jobs market is still strong, according to JournalismJobs.com founder Dan Rohn.

“Surprisingly you can still find a great job with a newspaper,” he says in a phone interview. “Most of the jobs on our site are for newspaper jobs. We don’t get a ton of TV jobs, just because TV stations are notoriously cheap. They don’t like to spend money on recruitment.”

Rohn has been running his site for 14 years now, “and we’ve had revenue increases every year,” he says. “The site has been wildly successful — it’s been one of those dot-com dream-come-true success stories. It combines my passion for journalism and entrepreneurship, which I’ve always loved.”"

JournalismJobs.com remains a one-man operation, and it’s let 45-year-old Rohn and his family live comfortably in the Bay Area. He won’t give specific numbers for JournalismJobs.com, “but I’ll say the revenue is substantial and I have very little overhead. ..Everything is automated: the billing is automated, users can post their ads, delete the ad, or edit. The site runs itself.”

He adds that he’s “hands-down we’re more profitable than Mediabistro on a dollar per dollar cost-basis.”

What does he do in the meantime?

“I basically keep an eye on it,” while raising three children, ages 3, 7 and 9. (His wife, Janice, formerly a CNN producer, now works for investigative journalist Lowell Bergman.)

Rohn launched JournalismJobs.com in 1998 after working for the Washington Post and AOL.

“Within a year I had taken about 80% of Editor & Publisher’s business and by 2002, pretty much the industry had shifted to us. My site and Mediabistro now dominate.”

Over the years, he’s fielded acquisition offers from three public companies and “I’ve had other small operations approach me, but they didn’t realize the revenue figures for the site so they weren’t in the ballpark with their offers.”

Dan Rohn

He writes in an email:

As far as selling JournalismJobs.com, mediabistro.com approached me 2-3 times in 2004/05. The second company was Demand Media (now publicly traded on NASDAQ). They had $300-400 million in venture funding and were looking to buy up a bunch of niche sites with solid revenue and traffic. (My friend, btw, sold eHow.com to them in 2006). I recall the third company being Internet Brands. I believe they made an inquire about the same time they were looking to buy mediabistro in 2007. In the end, we couldn’t agree on a price and I really didn’t need to sell.

Over the phone, Rohn said that “if someone came along with a great offer, I’d definitely entertain it. It would have to be a strong number — definitely in the seven figures, and eight would be great.”

In a follow-up email after our phone interview, Rohn wrote:

You asked what I do since a lot of JournalismJobs.com is automated. I provide consulting to journalists and other entrepreneurs who want to launch their own sites. One editor, who used to post reporter ads on my site, approached me about doing a job site for the transportation industry, since that’s what he covered. I did, and his site became really successful. I helped another person do a job site for the law enforcement industry. Ditto on the success. I could have done these sites myself since I own the programming code, but I really didn’t want to jump back into the frenetic pace of launching and running another dot-com. I have a TV blog that I may launch that has the potential to be much larger than JJobs. If I do, I’ll probably need to hire someone to run it.

Rohn says he remains a “T-shirt and jeans kind of guy,” and that his “nice German sports car” — he declines to name the model — “is my only indulgence. …You’re not going to see me at a fancy restaurant in San Francisco.”

“I don’t need a fancy Park Ave. office. I have an Ikea desk [at home]. For years, I used a table for a desk. I don’t get carried away.”

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