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
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Who needs video? Slate is pivoting to audio, and making real money doing it

2017 proved to be an interesting year for Slate Podcasts. Most prominently, it struck a curious partnership with Studio 360 last summer, taking over coproduction and digital distribution responsibilities from WNYC (where the show had been housed since its launch in 2000) as well as physically bringing the team into its offices. The network also steadily rolled out a suite of new shows, including a Spanish-language Gabfest and a few highly-produced narrative projects. One such narrative project was Slow Burn, the Leon Neyfakh-led narrative podcast that sought to capture a sense of how it felt to live through Watergate, which I largely enjoyed and reviewed for Vulture last week. It turned out to be a hit for the company — not just as a standalone podcast project, but also as a lead-generation vessel for its membership program, Slate Plus. Even though the core Slow Burn experience is available Continue reading "Who needs video? Slate is pivoting to audio, and making real money doing it"

“If a Serial episode was a mountain peak, S-Town was the Himalayas”

On the flipside, it does maintain a status quo that continues to leave unreconciled the larger question about how the space will continue to play out structurally — that is, it holds in place the tension between podcasts-as-blogs contingent and podcasts-as-future-of-radio contingent that seemingly came to a public head last summer. (Here’s the relevant Hot Pod column from that time.) A lot has changed since then; the industry has continued to grow, more hit shows have come to be, more platforms have begun to encroach on Apple’s majority share with experiments in windowing and exclusives, and so on. There’s a legit story in here somewhere…but this isn’t quite it. Looks like we’ll have to keep being on the lookout. “If a Serial episode was a mountain peak, then S-Town was the Himalayas.” On Friday, PRX chief technology officer Andrew Kuklewicz published a Medium post discussing Continue reading "“If a Serial episode was a mountain peak, S-Town was the Himalayas”"

Who Cares if Facebook is a Media Company?

The following opinion piece is a guest post and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of this publication. Read more about MediaShift guest posts here. Almost as many people get their news from social media platforms as from news organizations directly, and ten percent cite Facebook as the source of that news according to Pew Research. In other words: A significant number of news consumers consider Facebook a media company. Facebook would not agree. Just last October, several members of the company’s leadership team — from CEO Mark Zuckerberg to Chief Product Officer Chris Cox and COO Sheryl Sandberg — were widely quoted on the matter and the party line was: “We’re a tech company, not a media company.” Then, just a few months later, Zuckerberg seemed to clarify his company’s place in the ecosystem, saying that it is “not a traditional technology company” and “not a traditional
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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 —
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Must Reads in Media & Technology: Dec. 6

Must Reads is MediaShift’s daily curation of the big stories about media and technology from across the web. Sign up here to get these delivered right to your inbox.

1. Media Buyers Hail Facebook’s Dedicated Video Tab (Tanya Dua / Digiday)

2. NY Times Public Editor: Some Tweets From Our Politics Reporters ‘Outrageous’ and There ‘Ought to be Some Kind of Consequence’ (Oliver Darcy / Business Insider)

3. Behind the Times’ Surge to 2.5 Million Subscribers (Ken Doctor / Politico)

4. Partnering to Help Curb Spread of Online Terrorist Content (Facebook)

5. Former Bloomberg Editor Joshua Topolsky Launches ‘The Outline’ (Mike Shields / Wall Street Journal)

6. Facebook’s Walled Wonderland is Inherently Incompatible With News (Frederic Filloux / The Monday Note)

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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)"