Exclusive: Is World Hum Shutting Down?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

This weekend, as the New York Times Travel Show progressed, a small rumor began to spread — not something that usually occurs in the travel world — that something big was going down at WorldHum.com, and it wasn’t good. World Hum is getting shut down . . . The site is on a permanent hiatus . . . Cofounders and Coeditors-in-Chief Jim Benning and Michael Yessis were in a protracted custody battle with Nicole Ritchie regarding the paternity of her newborn (okay, I started that last one, and it didn’t have much legs).

As a little background, World Hum was founded back in May 2001, and in mid-2007 it was acquired by the Travel Channel. Back then, Jim and Michael has this to say about the acquisition: “We’re not going anywhere. Thanks to the Travel Channel’s commitment, we’ll edit the site full-time, publishing the kinds of stories you’ve come to expect from World Hum.”

Fast forward to November 2009, and the Travel Channel itself was acquired by cable channel behemoth Scripps Networks Interactive. Travel enthusiasts began to wonder: what was going to happen to World Hum?

Then, a few months back, observant readers noticed that World Hum seemed to be cutting back in the number of stories it was publishing. Then, abruptly, we saw on their Submissions page that they were no longer accepting submissions. All worrisome signs, and travel lovers began to worry that one of the premier sites for quality, independent travel writing was perhaps going the way of Arrested Development and Freaks and Geeks (canceled long before their due time).

So I decided to reach out to the guys behind World Hum to get some answers, and it looks like there are in fact rays of sunshine in the distance. According to our exclusive interview with Jim, it turns out that Jim and Michael were in fact let go back in November. However, it looks like a plan is in the works for the site to get back to its former glory. Per Jim:

We’ve been updating the site only occasionally since [November], and naturally, readers have noticed. The good news is that we’re now in the midst of finalizing a partnership agreement with Travel Channel that will allow us to continue to edit the site on our own. Once an agreement is in place, we plan to continue publishing great travel stories at World Hum. We’ll continue to benefit from Eva Holland’s editing and blogging, too. I’m hoping we’ll be back to publishing daily in the coming weeks.

. . . World Hum is our baby and we want to ensure it lives on. We’re optimistic that the site will thrive for a long time to come.

No further details regarding this partnership have emerged at this time. It appears that time will only tell in what shape and form their “baby” will live on, but I think I speak for everyone in the travel world when I say that we look forward to the day when World Hum gets back to doing what it does best.

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