The blogosphere rumour mill began frantically churning this week, after it was reported that the US-based news network CNN is looking to purchase Mashable for $200 million.
Mashable is one of the most popular technology blogs on the internet. It founded in 2005 by Pete Cashmore and originally intended to track the rise of Facebook and Myspace. The blog reports on all manner of internet company news and social media developments and is a great resource for anyone interested in technology and Social Media (They produce brilliant info graphics too).
Since its inception, Mashable has grown exponentially and now receives tens of millions of views per month (sources on the actual figure quoted differs – the Telegraph quotes 34 million whereas the Daily Mail quotes over 50 million!).
Surprisingly, it is not the reported amount of money that Mashable is fetching that has created such a stir (though, if true, it is incredible!) but rather, what will become of the beloved blog when (if) it is handed over to an organisation that is deeply entrenched with traditional media.
Tom Chivers (writing for the Telegraph) asks if CNN’s purchase will be akin to a dad dancing at a teenager’s party as he recalls the ill-fated acquisition of Myspace by News International. Using an amusing analogy, Chivers cuts straight into the heart of the issue: There has been a large amount of cynicism about whether an organisation who made their name in traditional reporting can translate its business model into the social sphere. The news has prompted analysts to predict that CNN’s traditional content reporting style will simply not appeal to average Mashable reader. Furthermore, CNN’s intent to purchase Mashable is solely motivated by a desire to break into the younger market.
While critics of the move are well founded in some of their observations – no doubt the plans are motivated by a desire to conquer new markets, the idea that a traditional media company cannot engage in social media seems unfairly cynical.
In some ways, social media finds itself victim to an unfortunate stereotype, the idea goes that, because it’s new and ground breaking that it must be treated as a separate entity. What has become apparent in the development of companies who engage with social media is that many are turned-off by the challenge of demonstrating ROI and become overly cautious when they deal with social networks.
Unfortunately, this means that they miss the bigger picture. Social media is far from rigid and inflexible and it should be treated as a channel which enhances and compliments other elements of your business model which is why it seems a little unfair question CNN’s ability to engage with a social audience purely because they are a company with more traditional roots.Tags:CNN, Mashable, social media, Technology blog