MEDIA PROFILE: Broad appeal means media biz weblog doesn't want for traffic

Though it may be the most comprehensive site for media news, all pitches for I Want Media aren't shoo-ins. The site's founder says he's looking for the "obscure" along with the well-known.

Though it may be the most comprehensive site for media news, all pitches for I Want Media aren't shoo-ins. The site's founder says he's looking for the "obscure" along with the well-known.

Each morning at 6am, Patrick Phillips gets out of bed and walks a few yards to his computer, where he proceeds to assemble a website that, once a side-project for the former PR man, has become a first-read for the media elite. Phillips is the self-described "editor, publisher, tech administrator, chief cook and bottlewasher" for I Want Media, a weblog that links to media industry news. His solo operation, run out of his studio apartment in downtown Manhattan, gets about 40,000 hits a day and is read by editors and reporters, media executives, ad buyers, media bankers, and even members of the Federal Communications Commission. Although I Want Media is by no means the only weblog devoted to media news, it may be the most comprehensive. Where such competitors as the more newspaper-oriented Romenesko link mostly to stories that concern editorial-types, Phillips' site tries to appeal to a broader audience. "You know, when some people refer to 'media people,' they interpret that to mean journalists, while others think of 'media people' as ad buyers," he says. "I aim to reach both camps and beyond." A link posted on I Want Media is as likely to go to staid reporting on the goings-on at the media behemoths as to a gossipy item on personnel changes at a glossy magazine. The site's clean design features content grouped by media category and issue. There are also summations of the recent media news, which put the vast amount of stories in some perspective. Finally, there are occasional Q-and-A's with luminaries like Kurt Andersen and Page Six's Richard Johnson. A broad definition of media news, however, doesn't mean that it's easy to place a story on the site. Phillips, who once worked in Hearst Corp.'s communications department, gets calls every day from reporters and PR people alike who want to get their stories some extra attention. He turns away a fair share. "Sometimes the stories they suggest are way off-base for I Want Media - they're too tech-focused or advertising-focused," he says. "Or sometimes I've already posted links to stories that are similar to the ones they're suggesting." Laura Goldberg, an account supervisor for Trylon Communications, whose clients include the tech magazine Business 2.0 and NewspaperDirect, calls Phillips "a tough sell." "There are plenty of times when he takes a pass [on stories I pitch]," Goldberg says. Still, a successful placement on I Want Media is worth the effort. When the site was launched in the summer of 2000, Phillips envisioned it as a crossroads of media information, with everything from circulation figures to links to media outlets and trade organizations. He thought it would also help to promote his corporate freelance writing. It was just that, but, Phillips adds, "the site has sort of taken on a life of its own, and attracted advertisers and companies that want to reproduce my daily headline links of their own websites." It has picked up a very influential readership and altered how media people consume news about themselves. "I Want Media has significantly changed the media business," says Lori Rosen, president and founder of The Rosen Group. "It's now less relevant whether an article appears on the wire service or on an online media service. If it gets picked up on I Want Media, it becomes more relevant in the readers', a.k.a. the industry's, eyes." Phillips links to news from varied sources, and he says he doesn't use a formula to determine what will make it. "I use my best judgment on linking," he says. "Stories from major media outlets are obviously reputable. I love finding relevant articles on obscure online sources, such as the websites of small-town newspapers." Goldberg agrees: "He likes stories that are about major media conglomerates, and ones that are about Davids beating Goliaths," she says. Recent editions have reflected the media's obsession with The New York Times' Jayson Blair scandal. But there have also been links to stories and editorials about the FCC's review of media ownership rules, also a hot-button issue. Phillips says that even when a media story spills over onto the front-page, or in Jayson Blair's case, the cover of Newsweek, the site's traffic remains consistent. What does give him a boost, and at the same time reflects the democratic and almost anti-competitive spirit of blogging, is when other media blogs, such as Romenesko or The Drudge Report, link to Phillips' interviews. Phillips returns the favors. "There are a lot of great sources online for media news, gossip and information," he says. "I Want Media links to them all." ----- Contact list I Want Media Address 23 Waverly Place, Suite 5E, New York, NY 10003 Tel (212) 713-5764 Website E-mail Founder and editor Patrick Phillips

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