The sudden demise of widely respected technology news website Gigaom (RIP) has sent a chill through media circles. If an outlet with a monthly readership in the millions, an authoritative roster of journalists and a diverse business model that extends into research and events can’t make it — even after several successful funding rounds — what hope can there possibly be for the rest of us?
It’ll be a while before the post-mortems are concluded. But one of the reigning — and more disheartening — theories so far is that Gigaom was in essence punished for doing everything right. Its determination to avoid the sensationalism and ‘clickbait’ that litters much of the Internet media landscape was well known, as was its doggedly independent editorial stance, which didn’t endear it to many potential customers and advertisers. Slate‘s Will Oremus (http://slate.me/1Byz4d6) and Jason Bloomberg in Forbes (http://onforb.es/1D8vGZJ) have both produced riveting reads on this theme.
Another possibility is that Gigaom simply took on more money than it could handle — see this piece by Danny Sullivan in Medium (http://bit.ly/1C5kgGn). While this obviously leaves Gigaom looking slightly less heroic, Sullivan’s point that venture capital isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially for media companies, is spot on. We don’t discount the idea entirely, but our experiences suggest Gigaom wasn’t killed off for refusing to play ball with big technology vendors. It’s not only readers who respect and value journalistic independence — the best advertisers do too, because they’re confident enough to not only withstand a little scrutiny, but welcome it.