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The story behind Factz
Plus, quarterly earnings from Ziff Davis, Gannett, and Lee Enterprises
Last week we learned that Factz acquired the celebrity news site Hollywood Life. Before the news, I hadn’t heard of Factz, so I pulled together a quick primer to get us up-to-speed.
To understand Factz, we first need to understand its CEO Nik Richie, who has been at the center of many buzzy controversies over the years.
Richie first rose to prominence in the late 2000s through his blog, The Dirty, which posted user-submitted gossip about ordinary people. “Richie made his name by encouraging his readers to rat each other out by emailing him ‘the dirt’ on one another,” according to a profile in The Ringer. Over time the site shifted towards coverage of well-known figures – famously breaking news about Anthony Weiner’s explicit messages.
After posting a rumor that a Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader had sex with several players, The Dirty sparked a seminal lawsuit about Section 230. Many top tech companies filed briefs in support of Richie, and the site ultimately won on appeal in 2014.
“It’s going to be an app, a social media network, a first-of-its-kind hybrid between, for example, TMZ, where it’s giving you breaking news—lifestyle, political perspectives, celebrities—but also [operating] in the Gen Z world of the influencers. The reality is, people are living for “likes,” so we need to showcase that. We’re doing a hybrid model; much like [Elon] Musk has done in the vehicle world, we want to do it in the media world, like an Instagram but also TMZ.”
Richie is partnering with Stephen Cloobeck – founder of a timeshare company and former chairman of the Nevada Athletic Commission. Factz is reportedly looking to acquire other digital news companies, and it’s planning to pursue events and celebrity partnerships.
With Factz, Richie hopes to continue elements of his original blog’s DNA. “I want to create what I did with TheDirty, where we have anonymous heroes coming in and exposing the underbelly of society.”
And here’s the latest news in digital media:
Ziff Davis: Digital media revenue fell 2%.
Gannett: Digital marketing solutions revenue grew 5%, and digital-only subscriptions revenue grew 17%; but total revenue dropped 9% YoY due to declines in print.
Lee Enterprises: Digital advertising & marketing services grew 8%, and digital-only subscription revenue grew 43%; but total revenue dropped 12%.
Amazon: Ad revenue grew 22%.
The Boston Globe asserted that its former president inappropriately used company funds.
theSkimm launched a health & wellness newsletter.
Jeff Zucker’s firm invested in EverWonder, a non-fiction film studio run by Ian Orefice, former head of Time Studios.
More than half of the newsroom at a French newspaper quit after the arrival of an editor with far-right ties.
A new site, LocalLens, is using AI to write stories about local government meetings.
Streaming service Max plans to bring news and sports to the platform.
A Twitch streamer was charged with inciting a riot after an NYC event.
WaPo profiled the Santa Barbara News-Press, which went bankrupt last month.
Pew published a fact sheet on public radio broadcasting.
Professor Michael Geist observed how the Online News Act is hurting news publishers in Canada.
The NYT published an interactive story about AI-generated travel books.
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