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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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

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

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"