Reports about the global newspaper industry collapsing around our ears are a fairly common occurrence nowadays - Jack Shafer’s piece for Reuters yesterday titled “The great newspaper liquidation” is just one example. But two publications that have been defying the general gloom and growing their profits are the Economist and the Financial Times.
This being the case, perhaps it’s no surprise that Atlantic Media announced earlier this year that it would be launching a new publication to take "a run at the space that The Economist and the Financial Times currently occupy."
However, there’s one big difference between this new publication – which has been christened Quartz – and its competitors: it will be digital only. In an interview with Quartz Editor-in-Chief Kevin Delaney, The Economist Group comments that, “unlike print publications, which must adapt their business models and journalistic style to new technologies, Quartz is starting with a digital blank slate.” This comes with serious advantages, The Economist Group implies: “They can create and mold their publication to fit the needs of a tech-savvy generation of global business leaders,” states the article.
Delaney comments in the interview that, although Quartz will have a web platform from the start, the company’s focus will be on mobile and tablet. “We’re hoping to build a service and news product for global business leaders, and one of the defining attributes of these global leaders is that they are incredibly mobile. So the decision to design a news site for mobile as the primary platform really maps to usage patterns,” he tells The Economist Group.
Delaney also comments that, although the plans are not set in stone, Quartz is intending to build its app though HTML5 – something the Financial Times has found success with. "It can behave like an app but technically operates like a website," Delaney tells Capital New York in an interview.
The Capital New York article also gives greater details about the kind of content that Quartz will offer. The new publication will feature news and analysis, commentary and opinion pieces and some stories in an experimental format that “pushes the limits of the standard 700-word article," for example data visualisations, says the report.
The piece in Capital New York also notes that Quartz has hired the Economist’s Media Editor, Gideon Lichfield, as its new Global News Editor and is planning to recruit a team of around 25 staff. So far, says the article, only about six have been hired, but they include Chris Batty, former Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Gawker Media, Michael Donohoe, ex-Product Engineer for The New York Times, and Zach Seward, former Social Media Editor for The Wall Street Journal.
In an interview with Poynter, Seward said Quartz was not necessarily only looking to hire those with an editorial background. “If someone happens to be getting his or her Ph.D in economics and planning to go into academics, but we can entice them instead to be a journalist at Quartz, that’s an interesting model for us,” he says.
With this impressive team and flexible attitude, will Quartz be able to compete successfully with other high-end business publications? AdWeek notes that Quartz will be an entirely ad-funded venture, and so won’t have the same financial cushion that the Economist receives from subscription revenue. The article quotes The Economist Group’s Managing Director and Executive Vice-President for the Americas, Paul Rossi, who says “Global business and finance is an expensive endeavor.” Although Rossi says, “I wish them well,” he suggests that this is a tough market. “There’s a portfolio of failed companies,” he tells AdWeek.