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Getting A Life

I feel your pain, Clark. You've done yeoman's work in keeping us all informed on space stuff. The rest of us will just have to try to pick up the pace so that you can take a well-earned break, or at least, easing off.

And I agree with the commenters that we have to figure out a way to make this more remunerative for him.

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 16, 2007 11:30 AM
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Damn sad to see. No other site even seemed to attempt to cover so much.

Posted by Kelly Starks at April 16, 2007 12:56 PM

The basic problem is that no one in New Space wants to spend a dime on advertising. Ask any of the players - be they 5 dollar mom and pop shops or well funded start ups rolling in internet cash. And the answer is always the same.

Why should we advertise when you guys run everything we release.

XCOR and Space Adventures PR flacks reply with that line without blinking. Maybe I should post the emails to show the level of contempt the flacks working for these companies have for Space Media publishers.

Old Space is the same on this point. Better to spend the cash on K-Street getting a nice pork roll than actually invest anything in space media and help employ quality journalists to investigate, research and write quality reports. I suspect the last thing many of these companies want is any real news reported as that might lead to some tricky questions to answer. Na the current arrangements where every first and every gee wiz story is met with wall to wall MSM coverage is just the way they like it.

How much money got spent last week at the conference. And how much money did the Space Foundation in turn spend on advertising. Zip. They get their nice contra deal with Space News and that's fine for them. Meanwhile, Space News barely breaks even.

Look across all the space media sites, they have little sector specific advertising and every deal takes years to bring about. itself is just consumer ads.

Why do you think we run pops and other junk advertising. And if you don't then you slowly go broke or you run it as a hobby cross subsidized out of other businesses that have little if anything to do with internet media.

The net result is that the quality of space media is always struggling to get out of the amateur zone. No matter what you might think of one site over another - they all share similar market constraints.

So how about it Elon, Burt, Eric, Richard, Jim and all the other wannabes of New Space - pony up some cash across the Space Media sector and invest in your own industry's media for a change. Maybe if you spend some money on your own industry media it might help educate main stream journalists and lift the general quality of space reporting all round.

For the record, SpaceDaily and associated network will do about 250,000 USD this year and employ three people full time. I suspect Spaceref is similar with some of the other bigger science networks doing the same. Beyond that it's - but they spent untold millions getting to break-even on recurring revenues, but will probably never make a dime back on the total investment.

Simon Mansfield

Posted by Simon Mansfield at April 16, 2007 02:57 PM


I see your point of view, but with all respect, I think that the 'new space' players have their priorities correct.

Their first order of business must be their business, not yours. And if "you guys run everything we release", then it's very intelligent and fiscally prudent on their part not to spend extra money for little effect. I'd call that a good business decision, and that's something that I feel has been lacking in the community until recently.

I'm sorry that it hurts your business, but every dollar that they don't spend with you is a dollar that they can spend to be sure that their next test or launch goes successfully.

Posted by Stephen Kohls at April 16, 2007 03:45 PM

It hurts their own business interests by under funding a key driver of public opinion. Many of these companies are not short of a dime, and spend a packet on marketing services and space junkets, and for that they get a lot of free media in the mainstream press.

But much of that reporting has to be questioned as to it's real long term value in educating anyone about the whys and why nots of this - something that quality trade and professional media should be doing.

Ironically, it's all that mindless space pop media reporting that is partly generated by New Space marketing money that in turn fuels the blind support for Old Space by so much of Congress.

And as can be seen right here - the key voice for New Space transport activities has just be forced to take a holiday in the full time work force to pay the bills.

The New Space hardware industry dropped the ball on the space media sector years ago.

But hey Old Space does the same, so I long since adjusted my business model to not rely on direct advertising revenues from space companies. We get a few good sales from time to time, as do other sites, but you sure wouldn't want to bet the mortgage on it.

Posted by Simon Mansfield at April 16, 2007 04:26 PM

I smell a PhD or masters thesis for some marketing major in the near future...

Posted by Tom at April 16, 2007 07:13 PM

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