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Read this: The Editor Planning to Shake Up News

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The Editor Planning to Shake Up News…



BBC sounds music Radio podcasts hello, this is the media show from BBC Radio 4 hello the world of startups is no stranger to hyperbole, but this must rank as one of the boulders mission statements to create from scratch and use provided that will rival the likes of CNN the New York Times and the BBC the take it seriously because the people behind this new venture a well respected in the business of news Justin Smith has quit his job as possibly bird media and Ben Smith is the former editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed news and he's just walked away from his Media column at the New York Times together.

They're going to run this new company.

It's the big news story in media this month and Ben Smith is our guests today.

I'd like to understand a little bit more about what you're planning basically.

We think there's a huge space to create a new global news.

Obviously started now going to start in a handful of markets and try to be competitive domestically anything to talk to people in the US have the UK and many other places you eat a look at public opinion Research or you ask them you are you delighted? Are you satisfied with the way the news is being delivered to you with the news.

You're getting you know they were mostly say now unfortunately.

There's a lot.

There's a lot of things that we hope that we can do while one is we don't want is hiring really great journalist and you know having their names their faces in a prominent after the audience can feel like they know what they're getting no news from still connected to the people that get the news from you know without without without stepping away from having a real news organisation and a guarantee central guarantee of trust in a style another voice so this sub stack with The Newsroom attached.

No I think.

Yes, upset a small example, but really all of the talent Industries you know the whole Media industry certainly the ministry have shift in the way that individuals journalistic you and me have really directed this on social media institutions the BBC the New York Times the Washington Post the bill to sort of help.

You know where in which the brain you're really you're talking to the Brat the journalist isn't tiny find these days the reality is that are connected to the big Challenge for any designer stations is figuring out how to balance this to those two activities that gives you a real bandage Help Me Understand this gap that you've identified because you sound like you say you can see a gap which the BBC the ft the New York Times the Washington Post CNN and many other big organisations having spotted two people in US

Many people have lost how many people say in surveys and directly and emails and tweets unhappy there are a couple doing a huge audience that feels the news has been in anything.

You know there are a lot of different things actually what is the film news has been in some ways of poisonous best social media to say that Twitter is not my favourite place in the world.

There's a form of journalism.

It takes the form of you tweeted something.

I'm going out Reddit revenge story with finding three examples to support your pre-existing opinion.

I will then feed it back to you and you will any will share it because your abuse are being affirmed and when I found actually is that what that sort of a cheap high that a lot of consumers would prefer is that you tweet something I can actually the situation is more complicated in weirder and more interesting if I listed the things that you've just said the risk of polarization via social media the risk of targeting people who already.

Is what you're saying the need to further engage with audiences.

You are consuming your news.

I would imagine the top executives are all the biggest news organisations in the world would say yes those are challenges for us.

I want to understand this what you're going to offer the different to what's being offered by all the big news organisations at the moment, which I mean you manage to address that more successfully than they are and I guess I would say you know I've been around this business and only thing that long enough to the age of 1 kg is silly and that you don't want to video when I do one simple thing but I think the combination of breakdown and a couple of other things one is enormous changes in story for most of these big organisation continue to read things they look basically like newspaper articles and let's not mostly the way people want to consume information and so I think that's a new look across the industry places like that Business Insider BuzzFeed alternative different places you did a lot of innovation that I think it we were eager to possess obviously I have.

Living with absolutely no that that's I think it's huge Direction and huge opening and then finally I do think of something less of an issue for anybody else, but the big stories in the world or fundamentally global and their DNA these days in coronavirus the rise of the far I'd get covered in a lot of the National press like they're really kind of City Hall problem.

I like what did the president do wrong it often Allah and that's a great story you cannot really miss understanding stories if you don't see the commonalities between between one and one thing to say realise if you read the national coverage, it is a big opening and I think there's and the most probably on the internet is a huge amount of people are generation in the Anchor who who are connected at the end of that you're consuming a lot of the same as and when they read the national press of the United States of Britain do not.

I like it's time to think and I'm wondering this is I listen to you that there's a potential contradiction in your plan in that you're saying people want further in-depth partial coverage of what's happening further explanation and you're putting an emphasis on individuals and largely in the last 20-years the most high-profile individuals within you have been opinion providers for example Rupert Murdoch's in the process of putting together a TV station talk to you be here in the UK built around Piers Morgan who's on a footballers salary Piers Morgan before we did honestly well, is there a contradiction there it's easier to build a brand around an individual with a strong opinion certainly one of the trends over the last few years is just as an opinion.

You're blowing into news with the weather is in distress and with that developing some are absolutely.

Subscription business maybe maybe in half hour for allows businesses that it's actually very successful for them, but my own experience of the Times whatever you know in my own journalism has been the response trauma strongly to the to the stories that don't you know disguise the journalist don't Godfrey of Sensibility or just the facts ma'am, but sometime leave space for fundamentally relied on the under-reporting in the information and leave space for the first smart reader to disagree with you.

So you already thinking about how you might do story so the Novak Djokovic store on the biggest stories in the world at the moment.

How would you do that differently to how other established news organisations are doing it? I mean you know what one of the things we would compete with everybody to break it was riders and and then you in one of the another thing would have done my career, but you just need to do is break you stories that I would want you know that story delivering a great way by somebody with him.

You have a relationship in your trust but also who's that? Who's that pandering to Unit 10.

No not that not giving you the antisera propaganda you that I don't think this is absolutely rocket science and then again through the sudden waves of innovation in news.

I think anybody who tells you will be figured out the one thing you know how this leaders business a practical question as you know very well breaking news is an expensive business reporters have to spend a lot of time working on stories some of them don't come to fruition if you want to be first on store on the global stage you can have to hire a lot of people up on you if you have you thought about what kind of scale Newsroom you're trying to build and I don't have her number but dozens of journalists and landing.

I think I think that is one of the opportunities.

Is that you know there's a lot of journalists your restless interesting something do right now.

Unless you start making some innovative and different journalism, what's the business model that you hope the serve well you know I think we we aim to have a blend of advertising subscription events other business is the best.

That's the core of the media business.

Thank you.

Look at my partner.

Justin's career is the Atlantic and it but he's found it if you have a really high quality product.

There's a lot of appetite for you mentioned a couple of business.

Is there the Atlantic well if I want to read as many of the articles? I would like I need to pay for it.

You've just get the New York Times readers many times articles.

I like I have to pay for it people listening to you.

Not just in the UK but around the world may be wondering will they have to pay for what you're doing more than 100 years age to sort of to build their brand in the audience and anything strategy description business.

Genuinely network of the details and you'll be well aware more aware than almost anyone because you worked at BuzzFeed news and you'll have monitored very closely for example.

What have posters done in the news.

Are you be aware? How challenging it is for anyone new to enter an arena where big piece like the new what time's the BBC and others have been around for an awfully long time.

Have you looked at how those businesses of fair and learn some lessons Babs absolutely you know which we put it differently which is some new entrance hall business shaking it up and tell them you know politico UK is morning newsletters single people seem to read in London right now and and if they really came in and the editorial side shows how big an audience.

There is open for something new I think they all have taken out the took a while to figure out their business.

From now as you know though, let's take politico politico target a particular section of society normally professionals often people work in the media or in part 6 Music people read the email in the morning well as a percentage of London it would be very small but as a percentage of the target audience for advertisers are interested in perhaps.

It would be so are you trying to make a product that target high-income individuals who may be appealing to advertisers.

Are you trying to make news for everyone? I mean literally only God Bless This to everyone any any any other publication in the world thinks about her audiences accident.

I think there's a class of mostly uneducated and selfish people who are reading Oliver work on the internet talking to each other all over the place and there's lots of this folks in places like Nigeria and India who have college degrees who you know you know.

Who were before but instead also add even more in the US obviously and you just left a business which also targets those kind of consumers the New York Times would say those the people it wants to have subscribing to its content.

How do you how do you explain to all of us why the New York Times has been so effective at driving subscriber numbers in the last few years.

I mean all the times in the US said you know the light to sort it.

Be there until it happens to try to understand totally rely mean the to the lateral 1701 Daybreak big stories.

They benefited institution business benefited massively from the rise of trump in the sense that they were pinky voice of reality and then they also built are increasing our building.

It is an interesting story of a kind of broad Media business in which they are cooking and crossword.

Driving a huge share of subscriptions if you want to hire some of the best journalist in the world, you'll be well aware that surprise them away from established Media organisations to come to something new is going to be expensive so who's paying for that news, but they were pretty at work and totally half and I will have the resources.

We need and honestly I mean having been prized away from various places particularly restless.

I actually think great Jonas right now my girlfriend and I think there's been a pendulum swing is always does the industry for 10-years ago toward lots of interesting and then sort of a rush of people like that to the nearest and back to the safety of these big established institutions and I think people getting a lot of appetite and sexually to to try something now interested to hear you list the people that you're going to be calling.

I'm sure you won't do that, but I'm interested what kind of journalists you think are the future what kind.

Are you looking to invest in I'm sure you're looking at people who work in established news organisations, but presumably you're looking elsewhere to but I guess to me in the abstract Stansted this is what about is actually true things in one is like a real obsession with the core values of this business that have been around for in terms of keeping an open mind of a letter reporting Leeds you and not leaving the reporting of having that kind of Sixth Sense for a story of being really aggressive, but then also a lack of particular allegiance the forms in which journalism is told you no know better people who worship the form of the reverse pyramid American news riding you know that that's not interested in so I think looking for people who you're absolutely want to break you stories with a lot with integrity and iron primarily focus on how the story where they told and could there be people who have a strong opinion.

Known for being public and strident about how they see the world it's the abstract but I think basically if I don't want to hire people who set reminder reader is going to think they can totally Trust on the subject because you know for any reason including because they have such a public steak in a side of an argument that you was a normal person going to feel like it can be hard to trust them.

I'm interested to ask that question because obviously river Murdoch is investing very heavily in opinion substack is really built around people whose opinions are seen as valuable in and of themselves outside of a larger organisation presumably opinion has to be part of the equation hear what happened in journalism, and I think they're away is I can get away probably getting scoops and you're breaking news in the end and open-minded analysis that you can connect with audience without without.

It is often religious developer make people's pre-existing beliefs.

That's my personal space and can I ask you how your planning to handle opinion you have been well aware within the New York time.

There was a big row internally after that the cupboard is you covered it after the op-ed article which suggested that military Force may be used to respond to Black lives matter's protest.

How did you view the Times is Handling of that and how might that inform your approach to covering subjects on which staff do not agree.

Can I cover a cover that episode of The Times everything that the summer of 2020 was the producer of November and the world and sometimes.

It's hard to separate out.

What was happening in newsrooms.

What was happening in the offices of you know everywhere else and so I think that doesn't make sense.

It's happening every workplace in the US that people were were.

You know the moment birth of this sort of intensive regional wrestling and also the peak of the coronavirus.

There was a very intense conversation about these issues than boiling for a long time americanisms in particular.

I think there's London this deal.

That is basically this kind of tacit agreement that they want to receive any what black journalist essentially an unspoken condition that they never complain about racism and that depends which is that broke down and in part of the newsroom explosion was really about I also think about the time but I do think corporate leadership across Industries as this outside reaction to Twitter is this outside reaction different employees voicing complaints that we must immediately chap somebody's head off and deliver it to the man.

And I don't even interim people internal one and so I think there was I am I thinking at the moment but I'll sort of corporate man reactions are a huge part of this story.

It was a specific moment in time, but lots of people who looked at that specific moment and looked at how newsrooms were handling it said actually what was seeing here as a generation divide between how younger journalist see the issue of freedom of speech and how old is journalist see the issue the freedom of speech.

Did you buy into that analysis that that's the case amateur freedom of speech is the greatest showman.

I do think they're older generous where I doing the yes.

We should run this op-ed even if it's highly offensive Suarez the younger journalist was was younger journalist actually, there is just no place for this whatsoever in our Media organisation.

Shift around speech is it harmful and where is the Lion and what about that from the Taliban what about not bad for both of which I don't think I don't think that the things that happened in December 2020 were mostly about stage and in their mostly about race but there is a generational shift and that particular question is also a wide range of music stations.

I do think that one of the healthy things in this environment is this is this is this is that they are going to be different locations with different views on somebody's questions and it's listening to you that the issue of trust becomes ever more fundamental to news media organisations trust between employer and the organisation and then trust between the organisation and its audience.

Do you think that van is a significant calculation as you create this new news media organisation how you

Re-engage people who have stopped trusting the news yet absolutely and I think there's a big opportunity to connect with people who you who honestly often if people about the news they say you know I feel like I have to read between the lines and it's distinguishing in that means a lot of different things these days before a wide variety of reasons and an opportunity and I think and I think proving in various ways that you're that you can take that you're up in my bed that you can another reader can trust you is totally central a particular decision you took around the Steele dossier and whether you feel that had an impact on trust between s and the media for listeners.

You don't recall this BuzzFeed when you were editor published the Steele dossier contained allegations linken Donald Trump to Russia those allegations have not been stood.

Justified publishing it all the same because you said this dossier was being shared in Washington and therefore it was relevant but a lot of what was within it has not been established to be true.

Did that impact you think between Americans and their newsmedia details of which is as you say as described, but you know early Jenny what is 17 cm in brief to the president of the United States in the the president of travel with circulating us senators intelligence officials diplomat's were reading at making decisions based on it.

It's CNN reported that there is this document with there's a secret document the contents compromising information on president United States in which my view argue about food which is it was well.

You can't really it's perfectly reasonable to as we were as laughable.

This document be sceptical of interest around and information once people are out there saying I holding my hand secret document compromising the president and I'm not gonna show you what it is to me with the situation with well actually we are sure the audience what it is.

You know it exists better that you see it that you are just told that the secret Akumal compromising information about the president but you know it'll burn your eyes out.

If you look at it and it down but there isn't it? You should be careful questions here and there there's the question of whether you should have published it which you just addressed.

There's a secondary question about publishing it impacts on trust in the news media because the reality is many Americans are saying that the volume of attention that the particularly the Liberal us Media paid to the

Stations around Donald Trump and Russia combined with the fact that not all of those allegations added up eroded trust in significant sections of the society.

Do you think that is the I do think that's true? I think it's a feature about we're talking about earlier that there was a bit there.

Where is a servant impulse particularly and cable is to tell people what they wanted to hear it's an impulse we often feel this business in that case it was a bit like the indictment of Donald Trump or right around the corner.

That's a complicated story that right because there is very unusual WikiLeaks Central Intelligence operation reportedly, was you know segway.

Try the Russians and Donald Trump's be half so obviously a question worth asking what's going on with Donald Trump and Russia and Adele on the other hand Trump's own politics are centrally about attacking the median running the video and he's very very good at it.

And and and really had a very powerful megaphone to do it and so the fact that his supporters trust in the media was a road it was partly because he did a great job of doing and it's of the rest of the season for the rest of the season that set a lot of the seminar and social media affirmation really present there are lots of different Dynamics which have contributed to an erosion of trust which I guess brings you to the point where you're thinking will ok? What can I do with this new organisation that potentially address is that and as you were talking? I was thinking of a tech website tech news website the market with sometimes publishes articles with huge amounts of information attached as to where all of the information has been sourced from is that too much for the average consumer order techniques might not work in terms of building back the trust as potentially being eroded.

Big Brother transparency is important.

Everything is use a transparency can take the form of 12-minute but but just in general.

I mean that again.

It's really early for me to service football specifically the notion that you feel that yeah that not only is this coming from a journalist an existing interested if you want to you can sometimes reproduce their work isn't petrol in for one of the great gifts of the documents and materials can be can be shared with other stuff is easier for proof.

What are the gifts of the is the people can share information freely but of course in each individual country there different rules around the internet.

I wonder if you imagine.

There are certain countries where your new organisation may struggle to share journalism initially.

But the increasing population of the internet and some national governments to the realisation that the universe is the travelling and servers that have to be located somewhere and posted by people who make an arrest of their own country in the story Ben Smith thank you very much indeed for joining us on the media.

Show will check in with you in a few months to see how this new venture is going thanks to Duncan Hannah Today studio engineer the media.

Show will be back at the same time next week with my co-presenter Katie razzall before now.

Thanks very much for listening goodbye.


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