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After three months of dishing the dirt on TV newsrooms, NewsBlues shut down Friday under the weight of its own success.

Readers expecting the usual anonymous insider reports from more than 200 local TV news stations will instead find a picture of an infant giving them the finger and a Hunter Thompson quote calling the television business "a cruel and shallow money trench ... where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs."

Site co-founder Mike James said that the death of NewsBlues came peacefully during the night. "It did not suffer," he said. "NewsBlues was seriously overweight. In October, it recorded 3.4 million hits and gobbled up more than 10 Gigabytes of bandwidth. Our server (the second in three months) could not handle the traffic, and asked us to move the Web site.

"At the other end," he continued, "we received absolutely no financial backing and could generate no advertising revenue. So, in its three short months online, NewsBlues essentially became too large, could no longer support itself and collapsed under its own weight."

The site, which was originally inspired by Maurice Tamman's "Newspaper Intelligence" page, News Mait, was championed by TV newsroom rank and file, and reviled by senior management. [See Blues You Can Use]

In October, James said his total expenses to that point had only been $200, not including the 15 hours of reading and editing submissions he and partner Mona Scott put in every day.

Besides time, the weight of moderating a terribly bitter discussion between TV news employees and management became too heavy to bear, James said.

"We are beaten down by the daily wave of anger from all sides," James said. "People pissed off about something that was posted, people pissed off because something they submitted wasn't posted... or, worse, was edited to remove libelous statement.

"But most of all we were beaten down by the demanding arrogance of all involved... the sense that this was their site and we were sometimes standing in the way of their right to vent... never appreciating the fact that we were legally responsible for the content."

James, who has an accomplished print journalism career under his belt, also said he was "absolutely stunned by the resounding inability of these professional communicators to adequately express themselves with the written word or form a coherent sentence or master the basics of spelling."
 
Despite the lingering bitterness, the site's founders are leaving the door open for more Blues in the future. Until then, James will continue his two full-time business concerns, and Mona Scott is looking into teaching broadcast journalism.

"The site could be quickly resurrected if someone, with more vision than we, is interested in pushing it forward," James said. "We would be willing to (A) sell the site and all records outright or (B) continue handling the editorial and let someone else concentrate on sales or (C) hand over the site and simply perform the Webmaster duties."
 
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Matt Welch Matt Welch is an OJR Staff Writer and Columnist. His work is archived at mattwelch.com.


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