Bleacher Report founder launches a "feminist website" for women who want to read about news and politics, alongside beauty tips and celebrity gossip
Bryan Goldberg, founder of the high-trafficked sports site Bleacher Report, has launched Bustle, a website for women. Goldberg, who has raised $6.5 million to launch the site, will be the company’s CEO, but the site will be edited, written, and read by women, focusing on the issues that women care about, featuring the products that women want, and catering to the advertisers who want to reach us.
It will be the first of its kind.
“When we launched Bleacher Report, we competed with some outstanding websites, including ESPN.com. There is no such titan within the women’s publishing landscape. There isn’t even a SportsIllustrated or FoxSports.” Indeed: Besides Cafemom.com, People.com, UsMagazine.com, BabyCenter.com, WomensForum.com, HollywoodLife.com, StyleBistro.com, EW.com, FanPop.com, Jezebel.com, RealSimple.com, Beauty.com, Oprah.com, YourTango.com, MarthaStewart.com, Celebuzz.com, Prevention.com, and PopSugar.com, no website targeting a primarily female audience pulls more monthly traffic than FoxSports.com.
Where is the Gawker for women? The ESPN for women? The Awl for women? The Slate for women ? The Onion for women? Perhaps when Google finally launches a search engine for women, we will be capable of locating the websites targeted at us, so that advertisers may sell us things. For now, we will read Bustle.
So what will Bustle be? In an interview conducted with himself on PandoDaily—perhaps some day the Internet will drum up the capital required to employ its first female interviewer, but until then—Goldberg outlines the editorial direction of the site. “Yes, we believe that a partner-track attorney can be passionate about world affairs and celebrity gossip. On the same day. During the same coffee break. And there is nothing wrong with that. Welcome to the year 2013,” Goldberg says. Strange: The year 2013 looks a lot like the year 2007 But I didn’t read that on Bustle, so I can’t be sure that the timeline is correct, to me, as a woman.
And what does “bustle” mean? To me, the name evokes the image of women as busybodies (“She bustled around the kitchen getting ready for dinner guests”), or else a Victorian garment designed to make our butts look bigger. But I trust that this word speaks to me as a woman because, as Goldberg elucidates in the comments of his Q-and-A with himself, “a female editor came up with the name.”
“Is this a feminist publication?” Goldberg asks himself. “You’re damn right this is a feminist publication,” Goldberg tells himself. “And here is what the editors at Bustle are going to do about it—they’re going to let the writers cover the stories that they find interesting.” In order to ensure that his writers’ intentions stay feminist, Goldberg has ensured that not too much of that $6.5 million trickles down to actual women. Bustle has offered to pay its freelance news writer, for example, $100 a day to produce four to six pieces of content daily. If Bustle’s writers received a living wage, they might start covering stories because they find them legitimately interesting, not because they feel like they have to eat to survive.
So far, the site’s feminist message is broad enough to include “7 Easy Tricks for Wearing Your Hair Down” and “Violence Erupts in Egypt.” I know that these stories are feminist because women wrote them. But are women really capable of processing the Egyptian revolution and their hair, all at the same time? “We are aiming to reach people across this country who are still reading Cosmo, and are not used to seeing the Egyptian Revolution side-by-side with Fashion tips,” Goldberg says in the comments. If only there were some website that provided this service to today’s women. Now there is Bustle.
Importantly, Bustle will be a website for adult women. According to Goldberg, “magazines like UsWeekly talk to women as though they were children, and they fail to connect popular culture with any form of social commentary.” Compare Us Weekly's editorial coverage to the pop culture commentary currently featured on Goldberg's own Bleacher Report, like “Most Unbelievable MLB Contract Clauses" and “Most Exciting Weeks of CFB Schedule.” And yet, this website, which is targeted at men, has not so much as mentioned the Egyptian revolution in months. Some day, perhaps, men will have a site of their own that treats them like fully realized adults. Somebody give Bryan Goldberg $6.5 million to make it.
Some choice quotes from the founder about the launch:
What fascinates me as I spend a lot of time talking about women with what they want to read…I used to have this attitude of ‘Oh, a woman who likes beauty probably likes fashion, probably likes interior design, probably loves pop culture, and health and whatnot.’ But that’s not accurate. My girlfriend is really into health and yoga and fitness but she’s not into fashion. And I know women who are really into fashion but not into beauty. So, my cousin is obsessed with fashion but she’s not one of these girls who spends an hour putting on her face. And yet I know women who spend an hour putting on their face but don’t really care that much about yoga. And I know women who are really into interior design but don’t care about fashion. And it seems crazy. You say, how can someone love interior design but not care at all about fashion? And that’s what’s awesome about it. If you can make a publication that’s strong in all of these disparate areas and bring together all these interests no one else is doing, I think you have a winning idea there.
During the last decade, many popular new media properties have launched, most aiming to attract men, like Politico, Bleacher Report, TechCrunch, Business Insider, Mashable, Grantland, TheVerge, Break, College Humor, IGN, Thrillist, and Gawker. (Audience Demographic data via Quantcast)
But with few exceptions, the number of high-revenue publications aimed at women is much smaller.
Women’s publishers have completely lost sight of which decade their readers are living in. This is a country where women out-graduate men. They are also closing the “income gap” quickly, [op note: air quotes around income gap?] and in many cities, they out-earn their male counterparts. But magazines like UsWeekly talk to women as though they were children, and they fail to connect popular culture with any form of social commentary.
Isn’t it time for a women’s publication that puts world news and politics alongside beauty tips? What about a site that takes an introspective look at the celebrity world, while also having a lot of fun covering it? How about a site that offers career advice and book reviews, while also reporting on fashion trends and popular memes?
We’re different, because we recognize how many diverse interests are shared amongst the next generation of women.
And, more importantly, we are pulling it into one place.
My job, as CEO, is to hire the right people. My job is to know a lot of engineers, editors, venture capitalists, and salespeople — and to bring them together. Knowing the difference between mascara, concealer, and eye-liner is not my job.
So, who's going to start checking Bustle everyday?