When Duncan Riley announced that he was selling The Inquisitr, one of the mainstays of independent Australian online media over the last few years, many readers responded on Twitter with sadness. Understandably, they didn’t want to see Riley, the owner who had founded and brought the site up to record peaks, let the site lose its luster and attitude under another chief.

It’s not an invalid concern. Riley has been at the forefront of new media since it was, well, new, and is a member of a group of people who can be credited with bringing the medium to the mainstream by proving the concept in a business setting. He started The Blog Herald followed by b5media in 2003 and 2004.

He wrote for tech news giant TechCrunch in its early days, leaving when the workload and stress the site heaps upon its writers got too much. Since the web publishing industry started to stabilize, at least in a temporary sort of fashion, he’s run The Inquisitr with great success to the tune of over 7 million page views per month and $9,000 in net monthly revenue. Not at all bad, particularly for a low-key operation.

Riley’s not ecstatic about the sale either. “I’m sad to be selling it,” he said. “It’s never really done better and the money is still coming in: it’s broken even since December 2008 and it’s a profitable ongoing concern.”

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Riley’s anxiety disorder has made a big impact on his decision to sell — it’s something he has documented on his blog before, the onset of which was caused by a rough divorce that the man himself will tell you was as bizarre as it was painful.

“I just know now I need a serious break offline,” Duncan told me. “I’m not prepared to say that I’m burned out, but I know the signs that I might be getting close and I know I need a break now.”

The exhaustion that prefaces burn-out and coming to grips with a newly developed anxiety disorder isn’t a fun pairing. Anxiety, in its worst form, is psychologically crippling. Though it’s often dismissed by the lesser educated, as is depression, those afflicted with severe anxiety often can’t even answer the phone without paralysing fear of what could be on the other side affecting them.

When the site sells, Riley intends to take a few months off to recoup. He may finish his half-written tome on blogging in that time, he says. I asked Riley if he’d be back at web publishing after the break. “I’ve been doing it so long now I’m not sure I’m able to do another job,” he said.

When he returns, Riley intends to build up DoMoar, a relatively new blog traffic exchange site that he started with Inquisitr writer James Johnson. Duncan says of the site, “We’re looking to particularly target the tech sector in the long term; a lot of these traditional exchanges focus mostly on odd and funny content.”

Otherwise, Riley is playing his cards close to the chest. He indicates that he’ll be back in the Australian Spring with a new site that’s more serious and more niche, on a topic close to his heart and personal interests. I’ve got no idea what it is, though I could spring a few guesses — probably way off base — and I look forward to hearing about it.

Photo Credit: Richard Giles (CC BY-NC 2.0).