MediaShift founder and executive editor Mark Glaser made this announcement today:
I have big news to share with you. After nearly 10 years of being hosted on PBS.org, MediaShift and Idea Lab and EdShift and DigitalEd and the Mediatwits will be going independent on its own site, MediaShift.org, starting on July 1.
I really appreciate everything PBS has done to support us over the years, but with so many changes in management there, it was difficult to stay aligned in our missions. Their mission is basically to find the next “Downton Abbey,” and ours is to wonder why we have to watch “Downton Abbey” on TV at all.
Obviously, this will mean less branding and visibility not being part of the PBS empire. But it will also be a chance for us to shine on our own, spread our wings and experiment with new business models outside of the public media sphere. That doesn’t mean we’ll be selling our soul for native advertising and listicles. But it does mean that we can try out new things and move in a more nimble way.
Our tech guru Erek, and our DigitalEd manager James will be leading the effort to migrate from PBS.org to MediaShift.org, with Idea Lab likely living at mediashift.org/idealab. We’ll also be revamping both sites to look more like EdShift and DigitalEd — completely mobile-friendly adaptive design.
While we will take a business hit with the costs to migrate and host on our own now, I’m confident we will make our way and do even better as a feisty independent site.
Glaser answers some questions after the jump.
Did PBS.org cover all of your expenses and pay your salary?
PBS funded us partially from 2006 until 2014, then cut off funding, but gave us the option of selling, spinning off, or staying put. We decided to stay put from Jan. 1, 2014 until now. I’ve always operated as an independent contractor for them, and never as an employee.
Was PBS responsible for ad sales? Did PBS managers have editorial input?
At one point, we split revenues on ad sales, and they do sell into our top banner ad slot. But we have been financially independent from PBS for the past 18 months and done well selling our own site sponsorships, email newsletter sponsorships, podcast sponsorships, social media sponsorships, events, workshops and now online learning modules (DigitalEd, in partnership with J-schools).
Early on, PBS had close editorial oversight when I was just a one-person blogger, but that has changed over the years. They still have final editorial say, but rarely use that power. We’ve had a large amount of autonomy there.
How do you see the site changing now that PBS isn’t involved? How large of a team do you expect to have? How will ad sales be handled?
I think the site will largely remain the same, because our community expects it to remain focused on how digital media is changing. We were already planning a redesign so this will just mean a new URL to go with the design. We currently have 12 contractors working for us and lots of contributors. We’ve always done ad sales in-house, but are open to other ideas.