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Military News Explodes Online

July 24, 2013

By Peter Sterne

Military news sites are popping up on the Internet. (Getty Images)

Military news sites are popping up on the Internet. (Getty Images)

In what may be the season’s unsexiest journalism trend, mainstream media companies are launching military-related news sites, on the theory that defense-related digital ad spending will grow as the industry’s print stalwarts fade.

In February, the blog network Breaking Media acquired AOL’s two-year-old defense blog, AOL Defense. (It was later renamed “Breaking Defense.”) Last month, CQ Roll Call, the Congress-obsessed publication owned by Economist Media Group, launched Topic A: Defense. Politico quietly enlisted a half-dozen reporters to add defense coverage to its Politico Pro subscription product. And last week, Atlantic Media unveiled Defense One, an online-only publication about defense and national security.

It’s no mystery why big media companies are developing an interest in defense. The Department of Defense’s budget was $525 billion last year, much of which trickles down to defense contractors. And those companies need new ways to reach industry influencers, the thinking goes.

In 2008, when Colin Clark launched DoDBuzz.com, the first defense-focused web magazine, his main competition was print titles such as Aviation WeekFlight Global and Defense News—the magazines read by the senior Pentagon officials and Congressional staffers who decide how to spend the Defense Department’s budget.

Since then, these once-dominant print publications have struggled to adapt to the web, and a group of web-savvy media companies have been angling for their ads.

“Our whole goal is to get inside the decision cycle of the Pentagon and Congress,” said Mr. Clark, now the editor of Breaking Defense. “For folks on the Hill and industry, what they value from us are the analysis and the breaking stuff that we bring to them.”

Mr. Clark believes that the defense contractors value the site more for its analysis and influence than for its advertising potential. Breaking Defense is not simply a platform for defense-industry ads, he said, “though we love them.” Read more at the New York Observer.

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