“Media is hard”: Corey Ford on why his media venture fund Matter is paused (for now)


This post is by Christine Schmidt from Nieman Lab


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In its seven years, Matter.vc has shepherded 73 media startups through eight accelerator programs, funded by two rounds of investments from a bunch of media companies. But to put it in old-school media terms, the presses have ground to a temporary — but maybe permanent — halt. This isn’t the definitive end of Matter, Corey Ford wants to remind you. He launched what was at first called the Public Media Accelerator after joining with PRX in 2012 to support more innovation in the space. (That followed a career path that included creating Emmy- and duPont-winning pieces at Frontline, earning an MBA at Stanford, and embedding in design-thinking and VC culture.) Here’s how we described Matter in its early days:
Ford said Matter represents a new model for investing in media innovation, which means they’ll be building a future not just for the startups, but also the program itself. Continue reading "“Media is hard”: Corey Ford on why his media venture fund Matter is paused (for now)"

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


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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

Venture philanthropy for local news might not be as scary as it sounds


This post is by Christine Schmidt from Nieman Lab


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An incomplete list of attempts to finance local news: Swallow that bile in your throat — at least for the last item. Local news is swimming in quite the pickle juice, as we’ve documented here before. Two of the brains behind a couple nonprofit, mission-driven, local-centric news organizations think venture philanthropy could help similar outlets get closer to the bullseye of sustainable local news as a public good.

Are billionaires trying to swipe local news again? (Nope.)

The concept is called the American Journalism Project, Continue reading "Venture philanthropy for local news might not be as scary as it sounds"

“There’s an opportunity to go deep”: What’s next for Rafat Ali’s growing travel site Skift, 5 years in


This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab


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If you’ve spent even a little bit of time on Media Twitter, you’re probably familiar with Rafat Ali. Ali, the cofounder and CEO of the travel news site Skift, is a voracious advocate of focused, niche-driven media outlets — which he prefers to frame as vertical media. I think in hindsight, a lot of the troubles that a lot of other media companies went through, we went through them a bit earlier than them — two years or three years before them, so we sound like the wise guy now. It clarified a lot of things for us in terms of the direct relationship with users, which now has become a fashionable thing to say, but we’ve been doing it for a while. I wrote an internal memo earlier this year and the title was “2017 is the year of the Skift subscriber.” Subscriber for us means anybody Continue reading "“There’s an opportunity to go deep”: What’s next for Rafat Ali’s growing travel site Skift, 5 years in"

Sidewire is civil, thoughtful, and either exactly right or exactly wrong for this political moment


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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There’s a kind of experience that’s particular to Twitter: A casual user, curious about the latest bit of Trump news, checks the service to see what people who have experience with these issues are saying in real-time, glimpsing a tweetstorm punctuated by egg-avatared trolls, irrelevant replies, and maybe a few good criticisms. It can be overwhelming. (Even in a crazy election year, Twitter added no monthly active users in the U.S..)

Sidewire — proclaiming to be “where experts chat in public” — wants to squeeze out the trolling and abuse prevalent on platforms like Twitter and clear a space for calm discussion free of social media “noise.” It limits chat participants on the platform to vetted “newsmakers” and trims conversation topics to just a handful of the most consequential or debateworthy news events. Launched in September 2015, it now hosts around 800 “verified experts,” around a third

Continue reading "Sidewire is civil, thoughtful, and either exactly right or exactly wrong for this political moment"

Matter launches in NYC with help from Google and New York Times, reveals new startup class


This post is by Taylyn Washington-Harmon from Nieman Lab


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Media startup accelerator Matter Ventures announced the opening of its New York office Thursday, in collaboration with The New York Times and Google News Lab. Matter also unveiled its “Matter 6” cohort of 13 early-stage media startups, seven of which will work from the NYC office. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that New York, in addition to being our home, is the global capital of news media. To be in both places really strengthens Matter’s mission and brand,” said Nick Rockwell, CTO of The New York Times, who was key in extending the relationship between the company and Matter. “I’m super excited to have The New York Times come on board,” said Corey Ford, Matter managing partner. “They represent the type of mission Continue reading "Matter launches in NYC with help from Google and New York Times, reveals new startup class"