This story was written by Keith Dawson for the Industry Standard's Media Grok email newsletter. It is archived here for informational purposes only because The Standard's site is no more. This material is Copyright 1999-2001 by Standard Media.

APBnews Vanishes in a Puff of Irony
Jun 06 2000 12:00 AM PDT

The introspection is getting thick in here. Media Grok's beat is self-referential by nature, but with this story we risk vanishing into a black hole of media recursion as we cover online the online media's coverage of the demise of an online-media outlet.

APBnews was an ambitious and by most measures successful media play. (These measures did not include profitability.) The site was devoted to crime, justice and safety. It had garnered journalism awards and attracted Pulitzer Prize-winning talent, even though, as the Wall Street Journal sniffed, "many of APBnews' staff reporters came from New Jersey daily newspapers."

On Monday morning, APBnews management announced that it could no longer pay its 140 staffers and 130 contractors. After two rounds of funding variously reported as $23 or $23.5 or $25 million, APBnews found all pockets closed. Several outlets reported that a last-minute deal with NBC/NBCi had fallen through over the weekend, but only quoted details from a letter to shareholders.

Reuters and the New York Post both reported that APBnews staffers volunteered to work without pay for a week while management continues to scramble after a white knight. The Post said the volunteer rate was as high as 90 percent, though it wondered whether some only stuck around "to hunt for jobs and upload their resumes."

Reporters love irony, and the APBnews story fairly drips with it. Grok was surprised that only four of the seven outlets reviewed here noted the weekend ceremony at the Waldorf at which APBnews received a special citation from Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc. The Wall Street Journal may have trumped this angle with its lead, "For employees of APB Online Inc., crime no longer pays." - Keith Dawson Axes All Employees
The Industry Standard

APBnews Out of Money (AP)
New York Times
(Registration required.)

APB Online Lays Off Its Staff as Firm Fails to Raise More Cash
Wall Street Journal
(Paid subscription required.) Runs Out of Money
CNET's $23.5M Gone, Staff Axed
New York Post

Market Jitters Claim New Victim in APBnews

APB News Runs Out of Cash
Wired News Fires a Staff It Can't Pay
Washington Post