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4iP investment in Slugger O’Toole

November 26, 2009

Considering blogger Mick Fealty began blogging” by accident”, the acquisition of Slugger O’Toole by Channel 4’s 4iP is an interesting development.

Speaking to CoJo’s David Hayward a month ago there was a grassroots edginess to Slugger O’Toole in the way Mick Fealty described it and it’s reach. Back in October Mick stressed the unique position the blog had alongside journalism. In light of a lack of resources to pay ‘good journalists’ to go out and do ‘good journalism’, the site he said acted as a powerpack to other journalists to do the job instead: “It’s not about handling mass audiences,” he added.

Writing on 4iP’s blog today, Ewan McIntosh described the acquisition (corrected after error in usage was pointed out by Ewan McIntosh) development as a “co-investment” and “a means of exploring localised political debate at scale.”

McIntosh ascribes an impressive byline to the Slugger site, describing it as the journalist’s “watering hole of choice”.

And yet the large readership which Fealty and his team of bloggers have built up over the past seven years is a massive draw for Channel 4 and 4iP. Just look at the banner graphic at the top of the 4iP blog: “Rethinking public service media”. First on the list is a revamp to make the site more accessible to “newbies” in a currently crowded market in pursuit of making the site’s ethic penetrate the mainstream. It’s not just a watering-hole then.

Does this represent 4iP buying up an audience and, if so, will it water-down Slugger O’Toole’s reputation? Or, once that all important redesign is complete, will it demonstrate a keen eye for the benefit on public service media of emerging newswires, a sign of bloggers and blogging’s rising reputation and much-needed validation?

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3 Comments
  1. “Will it demonstrate a keen eye for the benefit on public service media of emerging newswires, a sign of bloggers and blogging’s rising reputation and much-needed validation?”

    It’s definitely that 🙂 It’s important to realise that we’ve not ‘acquired’ Slugger O’Toole. We’ve put in some cash to help make a more robust system, one that does not fall over when an interesting story breaks. There’s also already a pattern of large spikes in traffic on the big issues that comes not from the ‘watering hole’ types, but from ‘newbies’ coming to it from search and links. Therefore, making the site one that they might want to actually stay around for a while on is an important advance.

    What’s in it for 4iP? A genuine opportunity to learn from the way Slugger has operated and will continue to operate? A distinct possibility of making back our investment through a revenue share on some minimal site advertising and a raft of tangential business activity. Importantly, though, our investment doesn’t change, challenge or question the editorial integrity of the bloggers’ thinking. We will not get involved in that at all. Why would we, anyway? We’ve invested in what’s there already and the potential to take it to other polities.

  2. 4iP has not acquired Slugger. We do have a lot of faith that Slugger is a sustainable site, run by a damn good team, with lotsa potential to grow, and we’ve supported them to help accelerate that growth.

  3. Tom and Ewan – thanks for the heads up on the acquired word .. changes made and published.

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