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A conversation with David Rose, little magazine veteran and publisher of Lapham’s Quarterly
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Oct. 19, 2011, 10 a.m.

Bostonist is shuttered as the Gothamist network looks to grow

Publisher Jake Dobkin said its traffic levels were low compared to the rest of the Gothamist sites and that the network’s largest cities perform best.

Despite shuttering Bostonist earlier this month, Jake Dobkin said his Gothamist network of sites is growing.

Bostonist failed to gain traction after more than six years on the web, he said, bringing in only about 1 percent of total Gothamist network traffic over the past six months. Editor Matthew Gannon announced the end on Oct. 7: “At least we outlasted the 2011 Red Sox.”

In an email, Dobkin told me the demise of Bostonist (and, earlier this year, Phillyist) is a pruning. “We call it a hiatus,” he said, “because we might return to the cities once we could afford to operate them the way we do in NYC, with multiple full time editors.”

Network-wide, unique visitors are up about 40 percent year-over-year, and revenue up about 50 percent, Dobkin said. According to Quantcast data, the Gothamist network attracted 3.2 million unique visitors per month, on average, over the past 12 months.

“Continuing that kind of growth requires focusing on what we do well. And what we do well seems to be the larger cities — NYC, LA, SF, CHI, and DC,” he said. “We’ve been hiring a lot of staff in those five (we’ve doubled in size the last 12 months), and we plan to continue doing that through 2012. We’d also like to expand the sales team from NYC, where the sales team is based, to also having local reps in each city.” Dobkin did not want to go into more detail about money but said he and co-founder Jen Chung fund the enterprise themselves.

For a city so large, Boston is woefully underserved by local news blogs. The most popular is Adam Gaffin’s independent Universal Hub. There are a few smaller sites. And WBUR’s Hubbub (my own failure, from when I worked at WBUR), folded in August. That’s about it.

Dobkin described smaller sites in Austin and Seattle as ongoing experiments. Gothamist’s foreign sites — in Toronto, London, and Shanghai — are independent spinoffs. Last year, Gothamist appeared set to be acquired by Cablevision, but the deal fell apart a few months later.

POSTED     Oct. 19, 2011, 10 a.m.
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