Consuming Consumerist

At a Consumers Union event at Columbia a few weeks ago, Consumerist editor Ben Popken told about his site being for sale by Gawker Media and I delighted in putting CU on the spot, saying that they should buy Ben et al. Well, it just happened. I want my commission. Popken says he’ll give me a dal on a slightly used toaster.

It’s a smart business move for CU that will bring them a younger audience – with attitude – and potentially a new source of subscription sales. Good on them.

  • Actually, I had the dubious pleasure of standing on the podium next to Ben Popken of the Consumerist when Jeff, in usual fashion, got up and asked the most incendiary possible question. It was something like, “Will you stand here and tell everyone that Consumer Reports will buy the Consumerist.” This was right after Gawker had put the site up for sale, and we were in fact deeply interested — but couldn’t say a word. I must have mumbled through some sort of answer, because eventually the session went on — but Jeff, you hit the nail on the head. It was the right move for us (CR) and Consumerist, and we’re thrilled that the news is finally out. Kevin McKean, Editorial Dir, Consumer Reports

  • Oh yeah, and your toaster will be in the mail …

  • I hadda keep my mouth shut, as well. /Craig

  • Definitely good compared to the Consumerist going away. However, I’m personally concerned about this purchase.

    I operate, which provides vehicle reliability information. Our information has two large advantages over that of Consumer Reports:

    1. Report actual repair rates, not just vague dots, to make the differences between models much clearer.

    2. Results promptly updated four times a year; so our information averages about ten months ahead of CR’s.

    But, since we’re a competitor, you’ll never see CR mention our information, and I’m personally not allowed to mention my site in their forums. Now that they’ve bought the Consumerist, I suspect the same will be true for it.

    Quite a few times a journalist has told me that he can’t write about the unique information offers car buyers, because part of what the site offers competes with information offered by their employer.

    In other words, from where I sit media consolidation isn’t always–or even ever–a good thing. Each media outlet has its own interests, and these come before the interests of readers. The larger these outlets get, the broader their interests get, and the more delimited their reporting gets.