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THE NEWS
The Wall Street Journal launched a monthly digital magazine last week aimed at readers 35 and under. The magazine, called WSJ Noted, contains original content by a dedicated team as well as other Journal reporters and highlights relevant work published in other sections.

SO WHAT
WSJ now has more than 3 million total subscribers after digital-only subscriptions grew 20% year-over-year to 2.2 million as of May. WSJ also already has a “very large audience of people in universities” coming to its platforms, as Louise Story, WSJ’s chief news strategist and chief technology officer, told us last month. The company hopes Noted will continue these successes by helping it better connect with and monetize the younger audiences it already has on its platforms.

Noted is intentionally experimental — according to Story, it is primarily a way to “see what really resonates with younger audiences.” This is evident in its tagline, which is telling stories “for, with, and by” young audiences. For example, WSJ has recruited a group of 200 young people to be “Noted Advisers” who will provide feedback and story ideas and collaborate with the Noted team (and likely serve as an organic network of brand ambassadors). This builds on WSJ’s existing emphasis on audience engagement, for example, through callouts which “solicit feedback from the audience [who] come in with many different anecdotes and tips and pointers that would become great stories,” by involving the target readership throughout the reporting process.

This increased engagement may convert students to subscribers once they no longer receive access through universities, or more generally more relevant content may lead younger readers to hit up against the paywall more frequently. WSJ already has partnerships with 200 academic institutions, which provide access to their students; Noted could be key to keeping those young people reading — and subscribing — once they graduate. While Noted will have a heavy presence on Instagram and other platforms, its web presence will be behind WSJ’s dynamic paywall. Its monthly cover story, however, will live outside the paywall, and WSJ stories linked or excerpted in Noted stories will be free to read.

As Laura Hazard Owen notes in Nieman Lab, this strategy is distinct from other initiatives that aim to create a separate subscription product for younger audiences, like NYT Now — which was an app discontinued in 2016. By keeping Noted behind the paywall, is also distinct from the complimentary access that publishers like The New York Times and Bloomberg have been offering young audiences or new verticals like The Washington Post’s The Lily, which is, as of yet, not walled.

LOOK FOR
How this resonates with audiences — 18–35 is a large age range, and it’s not clear how much their needs overlap. …


TIME has launched three new initiatives — TIME for Health, TIME for Learning, and most recently NextAdvisor — as well as expanded TIME for Kids under the umbrella of “improving people’s lives” over the past few months. We spoke to Maya about the strategy and execution behind the launches. Subscribe to our newsletter on the business of media for more interviews and weekly news and analysis.

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Can you tell me about your path to TIME and your role?

I’ve been at TIME since October. I came from Conde Nast where I was on Wired for 17 years. In the last four or five years, I took on brand marketing for GQ, Golf Digest, Pitchfork, Vanity Fair, and The New Yorker.

What was the impetus behind launching these products?

The super power of TIME is trust and accessibility for everyone all over the world. So we started thinking about consumer products that really spoke to a need in such a way that we made their individual lives better. …


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DIGITAL STARTUPS 2.0

Declining ad revenue has posed a challenge for the Black press, legacy and new publications alike. While ad revenue enticed a number of mainstream, white-owned companies to begin producing content specifically for Black audiences, more recent trends and tools have opened pathways for Black media entrepreneurs. This “second wave” has seen Black creators using podcasts, newsletters, and messaging services to reach audiences and while tapping into reader and philanthropic revenue.

Some Black outlets are leveraging both reader revenue and philanthropy. The TRiiBE, a digital site covering the Black community in Chicago is funded mostly by brand sponsorships, donations from readers through an Indiegogo campaign, with which it successfully raised $20,000 in 2018, as well as philanthropic support. Push Black, which reaches its audience of four million primarily through text and Facebook Messenger, also relies on donations from its subscribers as well as philanthropic support. …


This week, The Idea caught up with Evelyn to discuss The Guardian’s record contribution numbers and the future of reader revenue not based on paywalling content. Subscribe to our newsletter on the business of media for more interviews and weekly news and analysis.

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Can you tell me about your path to The Guardian and what your current role is there?

I was running a business in the publishing business in the U.K. We located to The States over 10 years ago with Time Warner found myself at Time Inc. I worked there for about six years. I was part of Time Inc. team that managed the spinoff out of Time Warner. …


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HISTORY

A 2019 report, “African American Media Today,” compiled by the Obsidian Collection for Democracy Fund, traces the arc of the Black press in the U.S. It starts with the first Black-owned and operated newspaper, Freedom’s Journal, founded in 1827 to advocate for the abolition of slavery. The Journal was an outlet for Black people to advocate for themselves, as its first issue declared: “We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us.”

Historians estimate that over 500 Black newspapers would go on to spring up in the 35 years between 1865 and the start of the 20th century. These publications challenged what had been taken as objective news by “mainstream newspapers,” which were by-and-large by white writers and editors and for white audiences. “The Black press was never intended to be objective because it didn’t see the white press being objective,” Phyllis Garland, the first African American and first woman tenured professor at Columbia’s journalism school, said in PBS’s film on the Black press. “It often took a position. It had an attitude. This was a press of advocacy. …


Louise was first at The Journal as a summer reporting intern, before finishing up business school and spending the next 12 years at The New York Times. She returned to The Journal a year and a half ago. The Idea caught up with Louise to learn more about the recent launch of WSJ Money and WSJ Jobs as well as The Journal’s approach to new product development more generally. Subscribe to our newsletter on the business of media for more interviews and weekly news and analysis.

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The Journal has announced several products in the last few weeks, including WSJ Money and WSJ Calendars. What was the impetus behind either of those initiatives? More generally, what is The Journal’s approach to new product development?

I run a big group at the Journal that we call DXS, which stands for digital experiences and strategy. We’re really the connective glue amongst a lot of different parties at The Journal, working in all parts of building out new things: the content strategy as well as the design and the engineering of them. …


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THE NEWS

Spotify has signed an exclusive three-year licensing deal worth $100 million for The Joe Rogan Experience. The show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 190 million downloads per month. The podcast (and its archive), which had previously not been available on Spotify, will be available on the platform starting September 1 and become exclusive by the end of the year.

SO WHAT

Spotify has been investing heavily in podcasting in search of higher margins: Its contracts with record labels limit its profits from music subscriptions, so it’s hoping podcasts will diversify its audio offerings, and subsequently revenue. Though it will not be selling ads against the Joe Rogan Experience (Rogan is sticking with his previous agency, PMM), Spotify is betting that the show being exclusive to its platform will attract new listeners who will go on to become subscribers to its Premium product. …


This week, The Idea caught up with Kerri to learn how PRX — a nonprofit that helped launch the Radiotopia network and RadioPublic and distributes shows like This American Life — is responding to the pandemic and how it uses technology to serve public radio broadcasters and independent producers. Subscribe to our newsletter on the business of media for more interviews and weekly news and analysis.

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Tell me about PRX.

PRX was founded the same year that podcasting came into being, in 2003. At the time, in public media and in public radio, lots of great content was created, but it would air once and then never see the light of day again. If you were running a public radio station, you only had two choices: either content that was nationally syndicated by NPR, or you made it. That was it: there was no middle.

PRX was created with the intent to make that marketplace. So, we built a platform, we opened it up to independent producers, and it was instantly successful. We also had to build an economy on top of it. We had to create a way that independent producers could be paid and that we could reduce the friction between licensing and rights and money. …


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THE NEWS

The Boston Globe is publishing a serialized fictional “mystery thriller” set in Boston over the course of two weeks, with prominent placement on its website homepage and the A1 of its print edition.

SO WHAT

This is the latest example of how fiction — and other non-journalism content, like poetry — can serve readers in ways that journalism can’t: countering news fatigue, reaching new readers, and driving habit and conversions with new products.

Publishers have turned to fiction to help engage and retain readers experiencing news fatigue, an issue affecting about a third of those surveyed by Reuters in 2019. The Boston Globe framed its decision as giving readers a respite from COVID-19 coverage, a real need given that seven in 10 Americans want to take breaks from pandemic news according to Pew. Even outside of pandemic times, The Verge, for example, hoped that it would “refresh the feeds of followers who may be getting burnt out of Facebook data privacy explainers or the government shutdown” with Better Worlds, an initiative last year to publish original and adapted science fiction stories. …


This week, The Idea caught up with Theo to learn about how she approaches growing one of the most downloaded podcasts in the world and what trends she’s excited about in the audio space. Subscribe to our newsletter on the business of media for more interviews and weekly news and analysis.

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Can you tell me about your path to the Times and your role there?

I came to the Times from NPR, which was the first real job out of college that I had. I was an intern at All Things Considered, and I looked around and asked myself, what are the jobs I would like to do here? There was one that was basically in charge of making all the editorial decisions for All Things Considered that looked fun. …

About

Saanya Jain

Strategy Research Fellow, Atlantic Media

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