Atlantic New Media’s latest business title, Quartz, is only available in a digital format, designed purely for mobile and tablets, and the target audience is strictly elite, comprising International business leaders who demand the highest quality information to help them navigate the minefield that is the global economy.
The launch has been surrounded by frenzy – particularly as the Quartz hiring philosophy has seen it take on journalists from some of the world’s most highly regarded media organisations. The man in the top job Kevin Delany and his second-in-command Zach Seward join the team from The Wall Street Journal, while Gideon Lichfield comes from The Economist to take the reins as Global Editor. Other organisations to lose staffers to Quartz include The Huffington Post, France 24, Gawker and GOOD Magazine.
The team of around 25 journalists will work primarily from the company’s headquarters in New York’s SoHo, while correspondents in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles will keep on top of the stories in those areas. The company is already considering opening offices in Asia and Europe to extend its global reach.
Digital only to keep the beat
Quartz also has an interesting plan for its newsroom activity, where staff will focus on ‘phenomena’ rather than fixed ‘beats’. As Gideon Lichfield explains:
“Instead of fixed beats, we structure our newsroom around an ever-evolving collection of phenomena—the patterns, trends and seismic shifts that are shaping the world our readers live in,” he said.
“’Financial markets’ is a beat, but ‘the financial crisis’ is a phenomenon. ‘The environment’ is a beat, but ‘climate change’ is a phenomenon. ‘Energy’ is a beat, but ‘the global surge of energy abundance’ is a phenomenon. ‘China’ is a beat, but ‘Chinese investment in Africa’ is a phenomenon.
“We call these phenomena our ‘obsessions’. These are the kinds of topics Quartz will put in its navigation bar, and as the world changes, so will they.”
It seems Quartz will be using this ‘obsessions’ approach to set it apart from more established competitors such as Thomson Reuters or the Wall Street Journal. While Quartz is small, it hopes to compensate by using its digital infrastructure to be responsive in order to keep it one step ahead.
For everyone, aimed at the elite
While aimed at ‘elite’ readers, Quartz is free to anyone, and makes its money by selling advertising space, but Quartz warns that anyone expecting to see the usual banner advertisements will be in for a surprise. The magazine will build sponsored content into its very foundations, using something called the ‘Quartz Bulletin’. Initial sponsors include Cadillac, Boeing and Credit Suisse, who are promised full-page advertisements on the website, mobile and tablet versions and were involved in launch activities in cities across the world.
While this sponsored content approach will offer readers a less intrusive advertising format, industry experts believe that Quartz will, at some point, need to look into reader revenue – perhaps by offering quality subscription tools like Politico Pro, going forward. They also suggest that they need to be careful not to compromise the integrity of their true journalistic content, by giving over too much space to their sponsors or they risk turning their elite readers off.