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The “lean & niche” playbook
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Two days after The Messenger’s launch, the narrative around the project has sharpened. There’s near consensus that the publication feels out of step.
Nieman Lab’s Josh Benton summed up the sentiment best: “It’s in an aggressive sort of denial about the world of digital news publishing in 2023. It’s LARPing an earlier time.”
We largely agree. The site is still in its first week and will surely evolve but, as we wrote yesterday, it faces significant headwinds in scaling its traffic-focused, aggregation-heavy, tabloid-esque model. It’s one thing to run this model profitably after two decades of traffic and brand building, a la HuffPost. It’s another to start from scratch in 2023.
On almost every major dimension, The Messenger’s approach contrasts with a new playbook many media startups are following:
Time will tell whether The Messenger succeeds. In the meantime, better to learn from the leaner, niche-ier models that are already demonstrating a sustainable path forward.
Here’s the latest news in digital media:
CNET staff are unionizing. The union counts around 100 members, including reporters, editors, video producers, and other staff. The effort comes after more than a dozen staff were laid off in March and the outlet drew criticism in January for quietly publishing articles written with AI.
Dotdash Meredith announced an intent-based ad product. The new tool, called D/Cipher, enables advertisers to target users based on topics they’re likely to engage with. These topical recommendations are based on anonymized user data and don’t rely on cookies or logged-in behavior.
OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman testified before Congress. In his testimony, Altman lobbied for AI regulation, saying: “I think if this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong … We want to work with the government to prevent that from happening.” His remarks come as the Biden administration increasingly views AI as a priority, and efforts to regulate the technology gain momentum on Capitol Hill.
More on publishers:
The vast majority of financing in the Forbes deal is coming from foreign investors.
Dow Jones and Columbia’s J School launched an HBCU talent incubator.
Several Fox News anchors have reached out to Tucker Carlson about joining his new Twitter project.
More on platforms & AI:
Microsoft is rolling out new Bing Chat features like the ability to see your chat history.
Amazon is planning to bring AI to its core product search experience.
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