I sometimes wonder whether there is a higher rate of literary production on weblogs or in newspapers and magazines writing about weblogs. Certainly it’s a close call. No sooner had I heard the news that Mickey Kaus was taking the final leap and making Kausfiles a part of Slate than I got a call from a reporter at one of the New York dailies (using a very broad definition) asking me to comment on it.
I did what I could to come up with something interesting to say. But it wasn’t easy. The first thought that came to my mind frankly was, “Jacob, what am I? Chopped liver?” But I’ll take that up with him personally.
What I told the guy was that I thought what was valuable about weblogs (a term I hate, to be honest with you) wasn’t so much their editorial or business independence as the fact that they are a new and I think worthwhile form of writing, one not tethered to the conventions and constraints of ledes, nut-grafs, beginnings and endings or even quality.
That being as it may, with the news of Mickey’s move it’s probably time for me to discuss my own recent negotiations in the same direction. For the last month or so Steve Case and I have been been discussing merging Talking Points Memo with AOL. As I noted above, I’m not averse on principle to bringing TPM under the wing of a major media conglomerate. But frankly after we looked at AOL’s financials it just wasn’t a pretty picture and we had to break off the negotiations. I mean, look what happened to Time Warner. “You’ve Got Stock Valuation!” Or, then again, maybe you don’t.
Anyway I don’t want to beat up on those guys. We just weren’t ready to tie our fate to such a creaky ship. So for now it’s just pure TPM, no TPM (a subsidiary of AOL-TimeWarner).