Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Disney Buys Babble Media: Babble Getting the Full Princess Makeover?

Babble: The happiest and dorkiest place on earth.    
Just read Disney bought Babble for some 40 million bucks.  Apparently the hip parenting website is now The Happiest Place on Earth. It's only a matter of time before it gets the full princess makeover, a cruise ship and tween stars with coke habits.  Let's quick Occupy Babble before it morphs into yet another insipid social media opportunity for advertisers and mommy bloggers looking to get married.  Cue Cinderelly Cinderelly.  Oh yeah, the slipper fits, the coach has arrived.

We already have a glimpse into this new social media-arranged marriage:

For example, if a blogger writes a Thanksgiving-related post about how to prepare an organic turkey, Babble's editors could include links to Disney's content about, say, festive table settings, said Brooke Chaffin, Disney Interactive Media Group's senior vice president of Moms and Family.  From The Wall Street Journal Disney Buys 'Mom' Blogs, Plans to Integrate Content
I for one could use some help figuring out how the Pilgrims and Indians got the candle wax out of their table linens.  And those cranberry relish stains? If Babble hurries my third-grader might be able to fit this onto her Native American poster. 

Not to worry, Disney is not out to princess-ify or product-ify anyone.  In fact, Ms. Chaffin is thrilled to deliver more "magical moments" to parents according to the Hollywood Reporter.  How very generous.  Should you have any further doubts:
"We are not enlisting these bloggers to go out and promote a 'Cars' film," she said. "If you try to censor them," she said of the bloggers, "you lose the essence of what they are...What we really felt we needed to grow the business is that daily content, and the most authentic content that's being published is by bloggers," Ms. Chaffin said.
Most authentic content?  Plentiful and cheap content.

How cheap?

Babble has yet to disclose whether it actually pays bloggers. 

Bloggers? In the wake of the buy-out the media has played up Babble as a mommy blogger site. The Hollywood Reporter called it a Mom Blogger Platform.  The Wall Street Journal headlines reported Disney bought 'Mom' Blogs.  Business Week, a Mom-Blogger Site.  The New York Times, Mother Blogging Network. Didn't start out that way. Sure there are some 200 bloggers there but from the start the site has featured columns and essays not written by bloggers, mommy or otherwise including some well-known experts.  Kind of like Huffington Post. Is any of this sounding familiar?

Mercy. 

Back in 2006 Babble was fresh and smart and like nothing else around, say iVillage or BabyCenter. The bad mommy confessions refreshing.  Maybe it was more a sign of my own stage of parenthood.  Now there are too many ads and too much 10 Snacks Your Kids Can Eat in The Car.  Or I Let My First-grader Drive to SchoolMy Child Is a Racist Pig.  At least there's still Heather Turgeon and her Science of Kids. For now.

If the Babble Bugle is any indication of the site's direction, parents will have one less edgy hangout despite the heartfelt promise from founders Alisa and Rufus to keep every Babble reader "informed, satisfied, enlightened, or at least tickled to some degree." Oh no.  In any event it's been a Cinderella Story for the husband and wife team so far.  Let's hope their ride doesn't turn into a rotting pumpkin.      

Of course in this real-life fairy tale Rufus isn't exactly the naif.

Before foistering his hipster vision on parents guy founded the high-brow sex site Nerve that ultimately spun into a less erotic general life and culture hub.  A familiar story. So I guess he is in fact an expert tickler of sorts.  Would love to know if Ms. Chaffin and the Disney execs all got a copy of The Big Bang: Nerve's Guide to the New Sexual Universe, Sex Etiquette, Full Frontal Fiction, The New Nude and Sex Advice From....


Someone please tell me that bugler boy is not Christian Bale from Newsies (i.e. Disney, circa 1992). 

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am posting anonymously for fear of reprisal, but as a long-time Babble blogger, I'm equally saddened and mildly disgusted by the Disney acquisition. Then, I've been sad to watch Babble devolve gradually from an independent-minded, alternative parenting site with high editorial standards to something far more mainstream and commercial (and far less interesting) over the past five years. The Disney buyout is just the last nail in the coffin as far as I'm concerned. I'm awaiting the big purge of bloggers like me who don't fit the shiny, happy, wholesome Disney image. Or, maybe I'll be kept around as a token weirdo. Heh.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and Babble bloggers are paid, but not very much. (Less and less over time, actually, presumably to make the company more profitable, to position them for acquisition.) Some of the big0name bloggers featured in Babble Voices, however, get much more, I suspect.

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

Thanks for stopping in and sharing, Anony. Suspected the pay was not great. Weird time, no? Similar sitch during my brief tenure at the now-departed ParentingDish killed off by Arianna Huffington and her army of unpaid bloggers.

Good luck and fingers crossed you'll either still have a pay day there or find a less shiny spot where you don't have to be the weirdo, token or otherwise. Happiness is fleeting anyhow.

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

Anony, I'm curious, haven't read any real criticism of the site or deal yet. Has there been any that isn't far flung i.e. on page 10 of Google search results?

Awesome Mom said...

Paper towels and an iron will solve the candle wax issue. I learned that trick from an awesome blog called Home Ec 101.

As far as the Disney part of the post goes I am rather anti Disney in general. It is hard to avoid them all together, their marketing is so insidious and how can you say no to your kids. I do try and minimize the exposure. I thought it was interesting how they took the small Baby Einstein enterprise and made it into a juggernaut that eventually imploded. I figure the same will happen to Babble.

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

My youngest barely even knows Disney exists except the Disney Channel that is in some ways more troubling than any retro princess tale. Yeah, let's wait and see what happens but as Anony has reported, the future is pretty much written on the wall in terms of quality and content.

Anonymous said...

No it's not Christian Bale who did indeed star in Newsies and also, in a related note, go full frontal in American Psycho!

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

Good Catch!!!