Media Monday: Metromix D.C. is dead, long live Metromix D.C.
Note to reader(s): Media Monday began his vacation on Friday, so if this roundup happens to be missing any earth-shattering media news that broke this weekend, that's why. (That's a joke, of course. There's not such thing as "earth-shattering media news.")
In early December, the Denver Post reported that Metromix would be suspending operations in seven markets, including D.C. You probably missed this news, for one of several reasons —
1. You don't read the Denver Post.
2. You don't read "Media Monday," which linked to the aforementioned article.
3. You don't know what Metromix is. (It's an entertainment and listings website network in 65 U.S. markets.)
4. You know what Metromix is, but couldn't possibly care less about it.
— all of which are perfectly reasonable. I do, however, care about Metromix D.C., if only because its owners, Gannett, have so thoroughly ignored my repeated requests for information that I feel compelled, either out of journalistic duty or spite (or both!), to mention these efforts.
After hitting a number of dead ends, I was told to email my questions to Laura Dalton, Gannett's director of corporate communications. I did so. She replied promptly, saying she would try to track people down, though it was late on a Friday. Having not heard from her by Monday, I emailed her again. And again on Tuesday. And again a week later. Dalton never replied. Thinking she might be on vacation (or worse?), I called Gannett's communications office and left a message. Katie Connell, communications manager, emailed me, asking how she could help. I emailed her the same list of questions, and I never heard back. This column is my last attempt to get their attention; let's hope Dalton and Connell have set up Google Alerts.
What, you might be wondering, were these questions that caused Gannett's communications staff — which must have ice water running through its veins, given its task of putting a positive spin on the slow, inexorable sinking of that corporate behemoth — to run and hide from this lowly TBD news editor? Have a look:
• How many employees worked for Metromix D.C.?
• How many of those employees are being laid off, and how many will be employed at WUSA or elsewhere at Gannett?
• I saw your quote, "The decision was made because the business model did not prove to be effective in broadcast," but, at the risk of revealing my ignorance, I'm not quite sure what that means. Can you explain it further, for a layman like me?
• Why do you think Metromix hasn't worked in these 7 markets, versus the others?
• Do you expect more Metromix sites to become "Express" versions?
• What is the "Express" version? Will it be general entertainment news with a national focus? Will there be any difference between these 7 sites? Will there be event listings?
• Matt Farley, lead producer of Denver's Metromix, reportedly told the Denver Post, "Only two or three out of the company's roughly 60 markets were doing well." Is that accurate?
• When do these changes take effect?
I now have the answer to the last question, anyway. Sometime this week, or perhaps late last week, Metromix D.C. switched to the "express" version. At first glance, the WUSA9-curated site doesn't look much different, with a carousel of photo galleries still rotating at the top of the page. But those galleries are no longer of local events — like, say, New Year's Eve parties — and instead comprise image stills of new movies, Golden Globe predictions, "Best make-out music," American Idol audition photos, and so on. Instead of local stories you'll find "The Buzz," a Facebook-like stream that updates whenever a Metromix user posts a photo, event, or comment. (Yes, you can be one too!) I'm kind of curious to know whether anyone is actually running the site, or if it's entirely automated. But I know better than to try asking someone at Gannett whose job it is — at a media company, no less — to answer questions from the press.
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