It was announced Thursday on RollingStone.com that Jay-Z launched a new news website, Life + Times, with himself as Editor-in-Chief. The post also compared this new enterprise by the emcee to actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s news website GOOP, except that the former is already doing better at launch with readers than the latter.
Both are, of course, lifestyle-oriented news sites, except that GOOP (launched in 2007) advertises itself as a weekly newsletter rather than a blog, and the website of the same also possesses a supremely spartan interface. The content of the newsletter was also scathingly reviewed by such outlets as the Daily Mirror, Vanity Fair, The Independent and E-Online.
Life + Times, on the other hand, has an interface which is much closer to the average online portfolio blog than a full-blown news website. One can only tell that the website, designed by Area 17, is not a personal portfolio or musician promotion page if the page is scrolled downward to the view of the footer.
The interface for Life + Times may very well change afterward in the coming year or so in response to user demand, but it is yet another example of a media personality who is seeking to expand his or her creative pursuits into web news publication.
It is not a new phenomenon, as we have seen Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller, Dan Abrams’ Mediaite, Alex Jones’ Infowars and PrisonPlanet and Will Ferrell’s Funny or Die. All five editors-in-chief had previously cultivated their careers in either talk radio, broadcast journalism or comedy, but had realized the capability of the Web to allow them to grow beyond their current fan groupings into full-on content management enterprises with paid, regular contributors and correspondents. All five editors are hugely successful with their core readerships and may or may not also have simultaneous presences on television, film or radio.
What ties all of these individuals – from Jay-Z to Glenn Beck to Will Ferrell to Kevin Rose to Leo Laporte – together, in my opinion, is that they were already well-established faces and voices on other media – television, film and radio – before they launched these websites, before they began to employ regular contributors and staff in order to keep a steady flow of traffic, gain an audience of avid readers and try their hands at the managing of popular opinion.
One could say that this is a sign of the Web’s arrival as a premiere medium of mass (and interpersonal) communication. Someone else could say that this is an example of “Too Many Sheriffs” who are competing with each other for avid consumers of their presentation of information.
But all such signs are partially attributable to the comparatively-decentralized nature of the Web as a publishing and broadcasting medium, the tools of which have become increasingly user-friendly to erstwhile and aspiring writers, presenters and other artisans who may not be as skilled in the art of news publication as, say, the journalists who supply content to print and television journalism outlets.
Thus, even as such personalities as Glenn Beck and Tucker Carlson have departed or are about to depart from regular residency in the “TV-land” populated by eyeballs and impressionable minds, they both will likely see much activity with their own news websites for some time to come, as may other personalities.