On this week’s episode we hear from Jakub Parusinski, founding editor at The Fix, a trade magazine for media professionals. He and Peter spoke about Jakub’s background across journalism and management consulting, and how that has informed the nuts and bolts approach the Fix takes to ‘cracking the media management puzzle’.
In the news roundup the team discuss crypto’s incursions into legacy media. We talk about the BBC pulling a documentary hours before it aired after the Guardian raised some concerns about the validity of its subject’s claims, and Forbes’ bizarre association with both a crypto scammer named Razzlekhan and its subsequent receipt of a $200m investment from crypto exchange Binance. In the news in brief we discuss Twitter’s results, the closure of Entertainment Weekly as a print title, and the laudable success of Industry Dive’s newsletter network.
They said a sub-40 minute episode of Media Voices was impossible, but we dared to dream.
The full transcript will be live here later this week, but for now, here are some highlights:
His background across businesses
I’ve bounced between the worlds of journalism and investment banking and management consulting, which isn’t your typical mix necessarily. On the journalism side, I’ve sort of done all the different jobs – from journalism beat reporter, all the way through CEO and chief editor.
But I guess what brought me to The Fix is actually the other side. At one point, I decided to leave media because I just didn’t really see what the way forward was in terms of revenue models, and how do you run this. I sort of tried to see how the rest of the world runs their businesses and what you can learn there.
On starting The Fix
We had a small team of people doing media consulting and we needed industry research; the kind of articles and data sets and all of the things you need to do to do your consulting and management job. We just couldn’t really find them anywhere. And so at one point, we just decided, well, why not do them ourselves.
That’s how we launched The Fix; we decided to create the publication that we could have really used.
Covering emerging markets
A lot of our team is from, I would say, the broader East European space – Ukraine, Georgia, Turkey. But there’s also myself, I spent many years covering the region and working in the region.
But I think there’s also a sort of an idea that a lot of innovation these days is happening in emerging markets and it’s not necessarily always getting enough attention. India is a place that I would love to spend a bunch of time because there’s just so much innovation happening there.
Finding value with niche reports
I think if we take a step back and compare how media looks versus other industries, this wouldn’t necessarily be considered a niche report, if we were looking at the FinTech space, right? I think in media, we’re just a little bit devoid of resources. So we’ve only been looking at the big stories.
Because The Fix is very B2B, as a publication in both the content and the spirit for us, we don’t necessarily need 10,000 readers for a report to be successful. I think if it hits 100 people who really value it, that’s already great for us.
The future of The Fix
The big thing is research and consulting. Enough people have reached out to us to help them answer some questions about what’s happening in this market or to investigate this issue. That’s where we see the future. We want this to be almost a think-tank publication without becoming too dry.
Main story: It’s been a busy week for crypto in mainstream media
The BBC has pulled a documentary about a cryptocurrency entrepreneur from television schedules at the last minute after the Guardian raised questions about some of its central claims.
- Early in the week, following some detective work from Jim Waterson among others, the BBC announced it was pulling an upcoming documentary set to tell the story of Hanad Hassan, a 20-year-old from Birmingham who said he had become incredibly wealthy by trading cryptocurrencies. It was to show Hassan distributing money to food banks, giving back after achieving a remarkable investment return of almost 16,000,000% in just nine months. The only problem? It wasn’t true.
- The Guardian went on to ask the BBC if it was confident in his claimed financial returns and questioned why the programme’s promotional material did not mention that Hassan’s cryptocurrency Orfano was abruptly shut down in October, with many unhappy investors claiming they were left out of pocket as a result. The programme was pulled at the last minute as a result – an embarrassment for the corporation and one that doesn’t speak well to its understanding of the crypto market, particularly its long, long history of scams, rug-pulls and wash trading.
Forbes has also been in the news this week as a “rapper” accused of billions in crypto fraud was also a Forbes contributor.
- Heather Morgan – currently on trial with her husband for conspiring to launder $4.5 billion in stolen cryptocurrency – wrote 47 articles for Forbes. She also, naturally, raps under the name Razzlekhan, the “Versace Bedouin,” “like Genghis Khan, but with more pizzazz.”
- It raises (more) questions about the quality of contributors – Joshua Benton does a good deep dive into the issues with this contributor model in his piece, An incomplete history of Forbes.com as a platform for scams, grift, and bad journalism.
Binance, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, has made a $200 million strategic investment in Forbes.
- It’s crypto’s first big investment in a traditional media property. Binance will be one of the top two biggest owners of Forbes after the listing.
- The funds will help Forbes execute on its plans to merge via a SPAC in Q1 of this year.
News in brief:
- Newly-formed Dotdash Meredith is ending the print editions of six of Meredith’s magazines, including EatingWell, Entertainment Weekly, InStyle, and Parents. There will be 200 layoffs from the move. CEO Neil Vogel said that the new Dotdash Meredith business will blend Dotdash’s online search approach with Meredith’s decades-old household names. “Buying Meredith was about buying brands, not magazines or websites,” he said in an email.
- Twitter has announced its full-year results for 2021. And while it might have missed some financial targets, it also managed to swerve the worst of the impact from Apple’s iOS changes that are set to cost Meta $10bn over the course of 2022.It steadily grew its audience. Ned Segal, Twitter’s chief finance officer described it as a ”solid” fourth quarter, reporting $5bn in annual revenue, up 37% for the year. “There are no changes to our goals of 315 million average daily active users (mDAUs) in Q4 2023 and $7.5bn or more revenue in 2023.” We’re yet to see the full impact of its acquisition of Revue.
- Business Newsletter Industry Dive is set to break $100 million in revenue. Industry Dive has a network of 53 business newsletters serving 22 different industries. They reach 2.5 million free subscribers through its mix of 25 daily and 28 weekly email products, and the average open rate across the portfolio is 30% (average open rate for newsletters in media and publishing is 22%, according to Mailchimp). CEO Sean Griffey says, “For us, the strategy was to find valuable people and aggregate them. Even though they’re going to be smaller audiences, they will be valuable, and to achieve scale we just had to do that multiple times.”
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