Mon, Sep 17, 2012 - Page 15 News List

New media group Quartz prepares to enter tough market

AFP, WASHINGTON

It seems like a terrible time to be launching a news operation.

However, there are opportunities and niches, and the new digital media launch called Quartz from Atlantic Media Co seeks to exploit them.

Quartz is set to launch in the coming weeks as a “100 percent digital” news operation covering “the most important themes of the new global economy,” editor-in-chief Kevin Delaney said.

Quartz has been recruiting a small number of veteran journalists for an overall news staff of around 25 people. The operation will features tablet and mobile displays, and a desktop Web site, qz.com.

“There is an opportunity to do great journalism on a digital platform,” Delaney, a former managing editor of the Wall Street Journal Online, told reporters. “It’s a great time to launch a project like this.”

Quartz will offer free content, with revenue coming from advertising, aiming to cover key global business issues and reach readers around the world.

“We’re really confident in the ad-supported model,” Delaney said. “There has been strong advertiser interest.”

The name was chosen “because it embodies the new brand’s essential character: global, disruptive and digital. Quartz, the mineral, is found all over the world, and plays an important role in tectonic activity,” a statement said.

Analysts say the project has the potential to succeed, but that it will not be easy.

Ken Doctor, a news industry analyst and consultant with the research firm Outsell, said there is a market for well-produced financial news — and advertisers are eager to reach these readers — but the competition is fierce.

Quartz will be up against industry “behemoths” such as Dow Jones, Bloomberg, Reuters and the Financial Times, he said.

For Quartz to succeed, “they have to decide which audience they going after, and how to serve it in a different way than the other giants do,” Doctor said. “It’s definitely an uphill battle, but it has a strong ability to succeed, if Atlantic Media is willing to put at least three years into it.”

Dan Kennedy, a Northeastern University journalism professor who follows new media, said Atlantic Media, which also publishes the Washington-based National Journal, is one of the few media organizations doing well with free online content.

“It sounds like they are going for a high-end audience, which is affluent and well-educated,” Kennedy said.

Even though the news industry is facing a severe crisis, analysts point out there are always opportunities for new players with a winning strategy.

Other recent launches include a magazine called Du Jour from the Gilt Group and HuffPost Live, a streaming video site from the AOL-owned Huffington Post.

Doctor said that with lower technology costs and social marketing, the barriers to entry for a new venture are lower than just a few years ago.

“It’s much easier to become known through social marketing, which is essentially free,” he said.

Perhaps more significantly, the lines are being blurred between print news, Web sites and broadcast media. Web sites are offering streaming video and sites like HuffPost Live are effectively competing with television news.

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