When Ben Smith left BuzzFeed to join The New York Times two years ago, the traditional view in the media circle was that this marked the peak of the once-bubble new media startup market. It turns out that potential disruptors like BuzzFeed do not have the resources and ambition to replace the establishment of media after all.
Especially the New York Times, which seemed to be shaky at the beginning of the 20th century, has now gained a firm foothold.It has a thriving business model because it has Convert advertising fees to reader subscription fees. It is producing excellent news and is attracting the best talent. “The New York Times used to be afraid of BuzzFeed.Now it has hired its biggest star,” Say This guy.
now, Smith will leave the New York Times For…new media startups. This is an unnamed institution he created with Justin Smith, who has been running Bloomberg Media for eight years. Is it time for a new, new narrative?
Maybe not. Since Smith left BuzzFeed, The New York Times has continued to spend a lot of money to select ambitious reporters from digital and traditional media. We are particularly aware of this at Vox, because the New York Times recruiting list includes Ezra Klein, who co-founded Vox in 2014 and moved to The New York Times at the end of 2020.
So I asked Smith himself, what do we think about his entry into and exit from the most mature media. I got a quoted version of the shrug emoji: “Accordion accordion,” Smith told me today. “The pendulum swings.”
My translation: Ben Smith and Justin Smith are very ambitious-ambitious enough for them to hold two top performances in the media is not enough. By creating their own things—funding them with other people’s money—they will become owners, not just employees. This is a statement that many startups put forward a few years ago, but now we have seen a generation of media startups bump their heads to the ceiling, so it is much less convincing for most reporters.
This means that the Smiths are very confident that they can fund this matter on a large scale from the beginning. David Bradley once owned the Atlantic and hired Justin Smith as his top business executive. He has told the Wall Street Journal that he wants to invest.
But Bradley sold his majority stake in the Atlantic to Lauren Powell Jobs, partly because he did not have unlimited funds to support journalism. So the Smiths may need more than his cash. A person familiar with Powell Jobs’ business told me that Powell Jobs himself is not an investor in this new company.
Ben Smith would not tell me more about his supporters: “We will announce when we are ready.” (If you want to learn about getting anything useful from Smith when he is in dwarf mode How difficult it is, please check his New Yorker.)
Speaking of translation: what exactly do the Smiths want to build? They said it would be big, and they focused on the theoretical audience of “200 million college-educated people worldwide”-a strange description used by Ben Smith in the New York Times, David Bu Radley also attributed this description to Justin Smith in the magazine.
Other than that, it is very vague. “I think the newsroom has a lot of room for innovation,” Ben Smith told me, adding that biased views and media organizations that cater to social media have weakened news consumers’ trust in other media.
Ok? I understand Justin Smith’s positioning. He has been working for a publisher for the past eight years, and the publisher has taken pains to present himself as a dry, factual news communicator for a commercial audience. This is especially true for Smith, who likes to adjust news routines.He is the famous person The so-called “Trump Profile” was released in 2017, Which angered mainstream publishers at the time, until today.
I don’t think the Smiths are so important to everything their new publication says, even to the people who support them or work for them. Before the new organization starts producing news, they will sell the new organization based on their resume and output. Once it actually starts making things, this is the important thing.
If you want to know more about Justin Smith’s thoughts, you can listen to my Recode Media interview with him last fall-it turns out that he was talking to Ben Smith about starting this new venture.
At the same time, let us give Ben Smith one last sentence: In response to my suggestion, that his term in the New York Times will be very short starting March 1, 2020. “Is the period starting in March 2020 short for you?” Smith said.