Consumers Union/Consumer Reports buys

Consumers Union/Consumer Reports buys
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Consumer Reports has a great reputation for trustworthiness, and is doing a great job getting into new media.

The Net creates new platforms and new ways to protect consumers, and Consumerist has been very effective in that regards.

Consumers Union, the parent organization has announced that it has purchased Consumerist as a new, serious venture into new media. It's a different approach, but one I like a lot.

It's now formal, as announced on the NY Times: Consumers Union to Buy Gawker Blog Consumerist :

It is also something of a logical fit. Consumerist is popular, with about 1.8 million unique visitors a month, according to the online measurement service Quantcast, but has had trouble attracting advertising because the site often criticizes companies. Consumer Reports does not accept advertising, and once the sale closes on Jan. 1, neither will Consumerist.

Unlike most magazines, Consumer Reports makes its money from subscriptions, which cost $26 for the Web site or print edition. In the company's last fiscal year, which ended May 31, it had $229 million in revenue -- up 10.6 percent from the previous year -- from Consumer Reports and a handful of smaller magazines.

In a year that has been difficult for magazines, Consumer Reports' subscription and newsstand sales have risen. Circulation was 4.6 million, up from 4.3 million in 2007. The Web site has 3.3 million subscribers.

"When Consumers Union was formed, it was a pretty snarky, aggressive organization that took on big organizations just like Consumerist is doing today; it's just going to an audience that we basically don't reach," Mr. Sateja said. "It may not be language, or voice or style that Consumers Union has, in recent years, become accustomed to, but it is part of the roots of the organization."

The old-media and new-media worlds have clashed over not only editorial voice, but also editorial process. Most print magazines have strict fact-checking and sourcing policies, while blogs tend to be more lax.

Mr. McKean said Consumerist would function much as it had, but with support from Consumer Reports. "If they have something they're doing where they say, 'Gee, I'd really like to have a fact checker give this a second look,' " he said, "the fact checkers will jump right on it and do it."

I'm on the board of Consumers Union, and fully support this.

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