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Plus, Substack’s co-founder responds to competition
This week we learned that a group of former journalists is launching a venture capital firm.
Founder Katherine Tarbox makes the case that journalists’ reporting skills translate well to investing, given the need to ask smart questions and conduct due diligence. The firm will invest in early-stage tech startups such as AI-enabled software.
I’m sure many journalists have the skills to invest in tech startups. But I’d like to make a separate point: Particularly now, journalists are very well-positioned to invest in journalism startups.
Many early-stage investors say that assessing founders is more important than assessing a particular business idea. For news startups, often that means assessing editorial co-founders. Many editorial leaders who are good at hiring would also be good media investors — both disciplines require a strong network and an ability to identify talent that others don’t yet see.
Editorial leaders have always been critical to a publication’s success, of course, but as power continues shifting towards individuals, editorial co-founders have become a lynchpin. Many of today’s most promising startups – such as Puck, Punchbowl, The Ankler, Axios, The Information, and Semafor – have prominent editorial founders, who are then able to recruit additional talent.
In recent years, many prominent journalists have left their posts to start their own publications. That’s certainly exciting when it happens. But looking ahead, I'd love to see more journalists on the other side of the table, with the resources to help fund the next generation of new publications.
Here’s the latest news in digital media:
Vanity Fair profiled Substack as it faces increasing competition. According to Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie, “With Ghost and Beehiiv and WordPress, the critical thing is, can you help people grow? For Substack, that is so nonnegotiable, because the entire business model is built on it. We have to justify our 10% take by helping writers grow so they can get more money.”
National Geographic Magazine is cutting staff.
WaPo published an Accessibility FAQ for users.
Healthline Media and Bloomberg topped a ranking of the fastest-growing publishers on Instagram.
Staff at a major French newspaper are striking after the appointment of a “far-right” EIC.
LA Weekly & Village Voice CEO Brian Calle acquired Paper Magazine.
The Denver Post and Boston Herald will end reader comments.
A research report found that 80% of video ads served by Google on third-party sites don’t meet the standards it promises.
Max is expected to add live programming from CNN.
Apple posted the entire first episode of its new show Silo on Twitter.
A study found that AI systems trained on AI-generated data degrade & collapse.
More than a third of Y-Combinator’s latest batch of companies are AI startups.
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