Ashley Norris joins Anorak to grow men's web network

Cost-cutting in consumer magazines could give blog publishers a 'window of opportunity'to grow audiences and revenues, according to one of the founding journalists behind blog network Shiny Media, Ashley Norris.

Norris - who left Shiny Media earlier this year – has this week announced his next venture, joining men's online publisher Anorak Media as chief executive.

The firm publishes satirical politics and media website Anorak.co.uk, which claims 300,000 monthly unique users, and new launch PopJunkieTV.com.

Norris said Anorak Media would launch two more titles covering sport and cars before Christmas and planned to launch another two in the New Year in a bid to grow a network of men's sites.

'I think there's a space online – there's not many intelligent, witty, funny online sites in this area,'he told Press Gazette. 'They're written by people who are really passionate about the subject."

Norris was one of three freelance journalists behind Shiny Media - which has grown since its launch in 2004 to become one of Britain's biggest blog networks with titles spanning fashion, lifestyle and technology.

Shiny called time on its network of football websites, Who Ate All The Pies, in September, describing the men's online advertising market as 'challenging".

'There are lessons to be learned from Pies – it was a great blog and was very successful but I think there are reasons why it wasn't monetised in the way it could have been,'Norris said.

'People shouldn't be put off. The ad industry around websites is still pretty strong, because they see a return on investment. It's easier to gauge and it's cheaper.

'There's some talk about a decline in ad spend online but I don't think it's particularly much. I think certain niche channels will do well."

Norris said the impending recession could work to small online publishers' advantage, as consumer magazines scaled back on their digital investment.

'I think it's a good time to start in an economic downturn – you keep things really tight and work really hard and then maybe in two years' time maybe we'll come out of this and we'll be very well placed,'he said.

'There hasn't been a consumer magazine cull that I think people expected. That's good but maybe it will happen later.

'A lot of these companies, if they're killing magazines and they've got websites that are largely driven by traffic from the magazine, what's going to happen to those?"

In his new role, Norris will work with Anorak founder Paul Sorene and the title's team of freelance writers, including former stuff editor Ollie Irish and Private Eye contributor Ed Barrett.

In a statement, Sorene said: 'It was very interesting how sites like Salon, Drudge and Instapundit played such an important role during the US election.

'Anorak is the nearest thing the UK has to those sites and with the financial markets in meltdown, an election less than a year and half away and the media in turmoil we certainly have plenty to write about."

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