OK, I’ve had a lot of fun with the play-by-play of the trainwreck known variously as Pajamas Media, Open Source Media, OSM, and Open Sores Media. Because, hey, who can pass up such a great bucket of punch lines?
But I do like the people I know who are involved. And so now I’ll give my advice. No punch lines:
1. Fix the name thing and fast. Come up with a new name or simply go back to Pajamas, which had recognition if not gravitas. (That’s not a punch line, really.) Be quick and gracious. And while you’re at it, you might want to consider a different verb that “dig” since Digg.com has pretty much sewn that one up.
2. Make a clear and open statement of what you want to be and why. That’s the real problem I’ve had: I can’t figure out what OSM think it is or will be in editorial, business, or blog terms. So tell us. Before you do, put it up as a wiki for your editorial board and members to edit (which worked well for Global Voices). Then put it out for the world to see.
3. But better yet, be true to the spirit of openness and ask your public what they think you should be, not just your editorial board. Open up the discussion. And given the context, you can feel free to kill the suggestions that you go eat raw eggs. I’d say you’ve already swallowed a few. Keep the best suggestions. And adopt them.
I’ll start the ball rolling: I think you should be a conservative Huffington Post. Stop trying to act fair and balanced; have a worldview and be proud of it. Thank your liberal tokens who were kind enough to join in and give you beard and come out and be right and be proud.
To be Huffington, you’d need to convince some blogless conservative celebrities to contribute. That may ber tough, considering your PR now. But I’d try to call in a few debts.
Ask for suggestions not just in content but also in business: in advertising and, Lord knows, in PR.
4. Get a new design and try to show off as much of the web as you can, not just a few isolated boxes. If you’re going to try to aggregate lots of the web, your design doesn’t show that.
5. Spend as little of that $3.5 million as you can. Stop with the salaries and fancy parties. Build a product and an audience first. The money is corrupting you, just like a bubblicious startup. It’s making you think you ‘re big when you’re not even born. So step away from the checkbook.
6. Consider hiring a manager who’d distant and disaffected, who’ll look at this business coldly to try to find a business. Yeah, I know I just told you not to spend money. But sometimes, managers are worth it. Sometimes.
I don’ t know whether you’ll have a product or a business as the end of the day. But right now, you have the little engine that could crash. So I’d slam on the breaks. Just my advice.