The Outline built itself on being “weird.” But is it weird enough to survive?

There are some sites that everyone roots for. Scrappy, beloved. See: The Awl. The Toast. Or not so scrappy, but beloved still. See: Grantland. When they shut down, people mourn them. Then there’s The Outline. In April 2016, Joshua Topolsky wrote a Medium post entitled “Your media business will not be saved.” Topolsky, the cofounder of The Verge, had left his position as Bloomberg’s top digital editor several months before. “Your problem,” he told his fellow media people, “is that you make shit”:
A lot of shit. Cheap shit. And no one cares about you or your cheap shit. And an increasingly aware, connected, and mutable audience is onto your cheap shit. They don’t want your cheap shit. They want the good shit. And they will go to find it somewhere. Hell, they’ll even pay for it. The truth is that the best and most important things the
❤
❤
Continue reading "The Outline built itself on being “weird.” But is it weird enough to survive?"

Hot Pod: Macmillan’s new network shows how podcasts can be a logical next step for book publishers

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue ninety-nine, published December 6, 2016. Midroll’s new executive hires:
  • Korri Kolesa is the new head of sales, replacing Lex Friedman as he settles into his new chief revenue officer role.
  • Eric Spiegelman is the new VP of business affairs, taking now-CEO Erik Diehn’s place. I’m told more information on this hire will be released soon.
  • Peter Clowney is the new executive editor. He was previously the head editor at Gimlet Media.
Of particular interest is Kolesa, who is taking over what is probably Midroll’s biggest revenue engine, its ad sales business. A digital media veteran with ample experience heading up sales teams for digital products not yet quite understood by the advertisers — she led the strategy for sites in the Fox Interactive Media portfolio like MySpace and IGN in the late 2000s, if that means anything to you —
Continue reading "Hot Pod: Macmillan’s new network shows how podcasts can be a logical next step for book publishers"

Josh Topolsky’s The Outline officially launches and it burns the eyes (but the ad experience does look cool)

If you were confused what The Outline, the ambitious new digital media project from The Verge and Bloomberg veteran Josh Topolsky, was supposed to be (or look like), its official launch today offers some clarity (its public products were thus far a Westworld recap/fan theory podcast and a Mars landing game). On the editorial end, it’s defining its coverage against other well-established outlets: The site’s work falls somewhere between a legacy outlet like The New York Times and a digital native like BuzzFeed, Topolsky told The Wall Street Journal on Monday. It’s a “next-generation” version of the New Yorker, ostensibly, a “New Yorker for millennials.” the-outline-mobile-swipeOn both the design and revenue sides of things, the venture-funded site is hoping to break new ground. The mobile-focused design is also graphics heavy and built around the action of swiping (including for its ads, which are kind of…fun Continue reading "Josh Topolsky’s The Outline officially launches and it burns the eyes (but the ad experience does look cool)"

Hot Pod: What will happen to the election podcast boom on Nov. 9?

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue ninety-three, published October 25, 2016. “We’re built on top of a foundation that we feel pretty good about,” PRX CEO Kerri Hoffman said. “I’m excited that we’ll never start from zero again.” We were discussing Radiotopia’s 2016 fall fundraising campaign, which kicked off on October 13 and ends later this week, and Hoffman was telling me how she’s significantly less stressed out this year. Last fall marked the first time the organization switched away from a seasonal Kickstarter strategy to a recurring donor model, an approach whose internal logic bears more than a passing resemblance to public radio’s pledge drive system. The bulk of last year’s work, she explained, involved building out basic fundraising infrastructure: pulling together email lists, developing the beats of their marketing push, testing out the messaging, and so on. A lot of those
Continue reading "Hot Pod: What will happen to the election podcast boom on Nov. 9?"

Newsonomics: Sketching in the details of Josh Topolsky’s new Outline

Don’t call Josh Topolsky’s just-announced The Outline “a New Yorker for millennials.” Or do. The 38-year-old digital media veteran of Engadget, The Verge, and Bloomberg can see it, and explain it, both ways. I asked the CEO and editor-in-chief of the just-announced site, launching in the fall, what he thought about that shorthand description. “I get it. It’s not the worst description I’ve ever heard…The New Yorker for millennials in some ways makes sense, and in a million ways doesn’t,” he told me. Topolsky is a rookie CEO and he rejects marketing shorthand in favor of deep and wide editorial explanation. He believes his joint title provides competitive advantage: “There is no other business that I can think of right now, and feel free to correct me, where the editor-in-chief is the CEO. If you can find another new media business where that’s the case, that actually has the Continue reading "Newsonomics: Sketching in the details of Josh Topolsky’s new Outline"

Daily Must Reads, July 13, 2015

  1. How to cut children’s screen time? Say no to yourself first (Jane E. Brody / New York Times)

  2. Putting the public into public media membership (Melody Kramer / Nieman Lab)

  3. Joshua Topolsky on his accomplishments at — and departure from — Bloomberg (via Joshua Topolsky)

  4. Comcast offers its alternative to cable TV, using the web (Emily Steel / New York Times)

  5. How MATTER succeeded in spite of itself (Naomi Lubick / Poynter)

  6. What it’s like to get paid for clicks (Jack Murtha / Columbia Journalism Review)

Bloomberg Business’ new look has made a splash — but don’t just call it a redesign

Bloomberg launched a fresh, new Bloomberg Business Tuesday night, to both acclaim and confusion. Change has long been afoot lately at Bloomberg Media, which hired Justin B. Smith away from Atlantic Media in 2013 and Josh Topolsky away from The Verge last July to help reconfigure the company’s digital presence. The new look — inspired in part by the boldness of Bloomberg Businessweek, the print magazine the company bought in 2009 — is fresh, colorful, and not a little bit dizzying. In a piece for VentureBeat called “Bloomberg Business’ new site design is beautifully bizarre — and it’s begging for haters,” Harrison Weber writes that the design “pulls you in as much as it spits in your eye. Yet, for some reason, I want more.” This sentiment was, meaningfully, echoed on Twitter.