The latest media personality to set sights on dethroning The Huffington Post as the leading news blog is bow-tie loving conservative Tucker Carlson, according to The Hill.
Carlson's TheDailyCaller.com, which will focus on reporting about the Obama administration and Washington politics but from a conservative perspective, will join a growing field of competitors at a time when newspapers are retreating from the national scene. Just last week, MSNBC reporter Carlos Watson announced his similar effort, TheStimulist.com, had raised capital from Elevation Partners. Both are competing not only against The Huffington Post, but also Tina Brown's The Daily Beast, Politico, Talking Points Memo and others.
While Carlson has not divulged his financial backers, he did offer The Hill some details about the site's business model. The site will share a familiar model where reporters will share the profits of the news site based on how much traffic their stories receive. The model is akin to the one pioneered by Nick Denton's Gawker Media Inc.
Unlike many of the competitors, which tend to cover Washington from a liberal perspective, Carlson's venture will clearly approach it from a conservative perspective. However, is taking the opposite angle enough to set it apart?
Carlson may be fighting an uphill battle given that his competitors may be better financed. In addition to Elevation's investment in The Stimulist, Alan Patricof's Greycroft Partners is an investor in Ariana Huffington's HuffPo, Politico is part of broadcaster Allbriton Communications Co., and The Daily Beast is part of Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ:IACI). Additionally, the barriers to entry are practically nonexistent since anyone with a TypePad or Wordsmith account can launch a blog -- meaning there is a constellation of other bloggers vying for readers attention. These issues were not lost on Denton, who last year sold Gawker's political blog Wonkette rather than continuing to compete in the crowded space.
The key difference, however, between TheDailyCaller and its peers is the perspective. Among the constellation of political blogs, the established names tend to be liberal and progressive. There is a small cadre of conservative blogs, the most notable of which include RedState and The Drudge Report. With so few well-known conservative blogs, is there enough of an audience of conservatives online interested in the format?
After all, it is a well known fact that Fox News, while wildly successful on cable, has not garnered the same interest online as its rivals CNN and MSNBC. According to Nielsen, Foxnews.com's audience was roughly a third of MSNBC.com's and CNN.com's, averaging 12.5 million unique visitors per month, notes the Project for Excellence in Journalism. Granted, MSNBC and CNN are both associated with online portals MSN.com (NASDAQ:MSFT) and AOL.com (NYSE:TWX), respectively, which sends gobs of traffic to the cable news sites, but Fox lacks such an association, which could explain the traffic discrepancies. Perhaps Carlson's startup can test the hypothesis if he successfully builds the right's equivalent to the left's HuffPo. - Matthew Wurtzel