Elizabeth Spiers can’t be happy this morning. The New York Times has just launched
DealBook, a business-news
blog which seems to do everything one might want a business blog to do, except
maybe snark. It’s very good at pointing to non-NYT stories: it’s AT&T/BellSouth
entry, for instance,
has seven external links. If you’re interested in which investment banks worked
on the deal, the NYT might not tell you yourself, but it will happily point
to a Marketwatch story
which has all the detail you might want. And if you’re interested in the law
firms being brought on board, there’s an entire blog
entry devoted to just that.
So where does that leave Spiers’s Dealbreaker?
She says that the people working on the site are going to be beat reporters,
breaking news. But that puts them in direct competition with the newswires and,
increasingly, newspapers’ websites. If Spiers wants a niche, it’s probably going to be in breaking gossip: hirings and firings, primarily, and maybe bonus speculation.
The other, unfilled, niche, of course, is snark. But I get the feeling that
Spiers, despite more or less inventing the snark-fuelled blog at Gawker, is
soft-pedalling that potential side to Dealbreaker.
The other open niche is free value-added commentary. The NYT’s business columnists,
Norris, Nocera, and Morgenson, are behind the Times Select firewall. Breakingviews,
too, is subscriber-only. But do Spiers and her backers have deep enough pockets
to afford bloggers with enough market experience that their views are worth
listening to? Maybe she can find some laid-off financial journalists who haven’t
been able to find new jobs elsewhere. But then I suspect her turnover might
be very high, with bloggers constantly moving to "real" media as soon
as they get an offer. Just as Spiers
herself did, back in the day.