Monday, February 14, 2011

They Used to Be Convictions

The internet world was rocked today by the announcement that Of Principalities and Powers (known to its legion of fans as “OPP,” or sometimes just “Oh, Pee”) has opened its pages to corporate advertising and, in a clearly-related development, is involved in negotiations to sell the blogsite.  This follows close on the heels of the news, late last Sunday, that Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington is selling her liberal website to media giant AOL for $315 million.
At a hastily-called news conference, Of Principalities and Powers founder C. A. Russell said the blog was branching out into celebrity coverage and would immediately make its pages available for advertising at competitive rates to “interested corporate entities.”
When asked what prompted the moves, Russell said that it was “a timely response to opportunities to enhance our revenue stream and position ourselves more favorably for corporate takeover in the upscale market.”  When asked to clarify his statement, he paused and then said, “I’m selling out.”
Queried about what corporate advertisers the blog was targeting. Russell specified “the financial sector, energy conglomerates, defense contractors, and major pharmaceuticals.”  After reporters pointed out that those were the corporate areas often singled out for criticism on the blog’s pages, he responded, “Precisely.  That’s why it makes sense for them to book advertising and then exercise their financial clout to shape blog content.”  
“Does that mean that you’re actually inviting those corporations to gut your columns in exchange for cash?” asked one stunned reporter.
Russell failed to answer the question directly, saying instead, “I think I’ve already spelled out my basic stance.  This has been just another in a long lifetime of hard winters, and my wife and I have never been to St. Thomas, Anguilla, St. Barths, St. Vincent, Cancun, or even Hawaii.  The house we’re renting is being sold, I haven’t owned a new vehicle since 1972, we currently have nowhere near enough income to qualify for tax breaks, and Congress is poised to cut Social Security and medical benefits as wars eat up half the federal budget.  Add to all that the sale of The Huffington Post, and clearly the time was right to rethink my positions.”
“By ‘positions’ do you mean ‘convictions’?”
“They used to be ‘convictions’: now they’re ‘positions’.”
“What makes you think Of Principalities and Powers will attract the big-bucks advertisers you mentioned?”
“Our financial advisers tell us that corporations are always on the lookout for areas with an exceptionally pure water supply.  Once identified, those areas become prime targets for commercial and residential development, since pure water is an increasingly rare commodity.  Our blog holds a comparable position in the media landscape.  It’s virtually undiscovered, and in laboratory tests our columns consistently rate pro-peace, pro-nonviolence, pro-democracy, pro-human rights, pro-civil liberties, pro-environment, pro-poor and middle class, pro-tolerance, pro-arts, pro-education, and pro-activism.  We’re 99.44% pure.  That should make us extremely attractive as an area for commercial growth.”
“But my understanding is that the level of pollution in a water supply has a direct correlation with the level of development,” commented one reporter.
“Well, I guess I’m asking if you expect the analogy to play out that way.  Areas have pure water, get developed, and then have polluted water.  Your blog is pure, it gets developed, and ...?”
“In both cases, think of the new revenues.”
“I’m not sure that addresses my question....”
“You need to understand our corporate vision.  We feel that with our new partner--whomever that may be--we can embrace the digital future and become a digital destination that delivers unmatched experiences for both consumers and advertisers.”
“Consumers?  Haven’t you always thought of your readers as citizens first?”
“We’re rethinking our business model.  We see ourselves now as serving advertisers rather than the public.”
“Do you really think the culture needs another media outlet tarted up with celebrity coverage?” asked one reporter hesitantly.  “I mean, won’t it just distract people from the issues that matter to keep plastering pictures and stories of Lindsay Lohan, Kim Kardashian, and Christina Aguilera all over your pages?”
“I see celebrity coverage simply as a way to attract more viewers to the blog.  Like spooning sugar on a grapefruit.”
“How far have you gotten in your efforts to sell your blog?”
“I can’t divulge many specifics at this time.  I can tell you that we’re engaged in extremely delicate negotiations with a number of serious candidates, including Fox News, AOL, Disney, and Viacom.”
“And the price tag?”
“Our starting point is the Huffington Post deal.  They draw about 25 million visitors to their site per month, and sold for $315 million.  We’re looking at prorating our price based on our number of monthly viewers.”
Hastily scribbling notes, one reporter asked, “So can you give us a ballpark figure for your selling price?”
“Somewhere in excess of $2,500.”
The reporter looked up.  “I don’t think that will get you a week on St. Barths.”
“We’re willing to settle for Tampa.”
© Tony Russell, 2011

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Brilliant! And funny, too! Keep it up!