After weighing the potential implications of a sale to the Koch Brothers, 2paragraphs–the popular news/arts/media site focused on quality and brevity–has said it will not sell itself to Koch Industries. Previous speculation focused on the Kochs’ alleged interest in giant media properties like the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, but that has only obscured the Kochs’ quieter pursuit of smaller new media properties, whose influence keeps growing as Twitter and other tools continue to disrupt traditional media monopolies. Smaller sites and companies, often pinched for revenue, can be acquired more easily and with less scrutiny than large traditional entities like the Tribune Company. Close observers say the focus on these big fish may be a classic case of misdirection by the Kochs, who can net a large school of piranha-sized sites to help forward their interests while all eyes are on the fate of the old whales.
“We looked at the ‘grassroots’ efforts both the Koch brothers and the latest GOP plans talk about, and we saw our business being potentially used as a tool for that,” said Joseph Mackin, CEO of 2paragraphs. “We agree with reporting like David Sirota’s that shows the powerful role traditional newspaper companies still play in what the public sees and talks about. We know how important these companies are and admire them. Yet we also see bloggers and smaller properties like ours (and far bigger than ours) gaining influence. Even sites that regularly reach even 10 or 20 thousand people can be influential in a country where a Senator goes to Washington for six years with a victory margin of 312 votes (see Al Franken). What if the Kochs were to gobble up a whole bunch of smaller independent online voices? Of course, the money side of any proposition is difficult to ignore. But for now, 2paragraphs will continue to reject partnership/purchase offers from any company that has demonstrated a strong political agenda–on either side.”