The Atlantic Media Company, the 155-year-old magazine and media group, launched its new business website, Quartz, on Monday, describing it as the "most significant" new publication in the company's storied history.
Washington, D.C.-based Atlantic Media is betting on financial journalism at a time of extreme disruption, as the media industry changes painfully from print to diverse platforms.
Quartz, whose top editors are in New York, seeks to differentiate itself from financial mainstays like Pearson Plc (NYSE: PSO)'s Financial Times and News Corp.'s (Nasdaq: NWSA) Wall Street Journal. The publication's 20 staffers plan to base their coverage around their "obsessions" like China's economic slowdown or "energy shocks," rather than specific beats. Articles include analysis, features and short links to other publications' scoops, in contrast to the torrent of financial data that rivals provide.
"In today’s global economy, the most significant developments are found far from the traditional centers of gravity, and traditional ways of understanding the world no longer apply. Aware of this, we intend to do some things differently than you might expect.," wrote Quartz editor-in-chief Kevin Delaney in a post. Delaney was formerly managing editor of the Wall Street Journal Online.
Quartz has no subscription fees or paywall, in contrast to the Journal, New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) and FT. It also lacks the additional revenue streams of Bloomberg LP's terminals and Reuters' termninals and data services.
But the site is launching with four blue chip sponsors, including Chevron( NYSE: CVX), the world's fourth-largest energy company, which has a sponsored post announcing the company's partnership with NASA. Others are Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA), the world's largest aerospace manufacturer; Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE: CS), the second-largest Swiss bank and top-selling automaker General Motors (NYSE: GM), which is touting Cadillacs on the site.
Quartz didn't immediately respond to an inquiry regarding additional advertisers.
The website is consistent with the Atlantic's expanded efforts in digital. According to a recent piece in the New York Times, owner David Bradley said that revenue had doubled from $20 million to $40 million and the company has been profitable for three years. Digital revenue comprises 65 percent of its revenue, and the company also hosts conferences.
Quartz's aesthetic is also indicative of a new approach. Instead of the traditional front page of virtually every news website, Quartz opens on the site's lead story, along with a sidebar of recent stories -- a format that is reminiscent of Nick Denton's blog Gawker. It's also telling that Quartz first appeared on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) prior to its launch, reflecting its immersion in social media. That level of technological affinity is still lacking at some traditional news sources.
Quartz faces steep competition and the uncertain world of online advertising. As Paul Rossi, managing director of the Economist Group’s Americas division, put it in a June interview with Adweek, “There’s a portfolio of failed companies," likely a reference to Conde Nast's shuttered magazine, Portfolio.
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