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Big Noises: Jacob Donnelly on why publishers can’t resist the pursuit of scale

On this week’s episode of Big Noises from Media Voices we hear from Jacob Donnelly, founder of A Media Operator and publisher at Morning Brew.


On this week’s episode of Big Noises we hear from Jacob Donnelly, founder of A Media Operator and publisher at Morning Brew. His path from crypto reporter to owner and operator of a media newsletter has afforded him a wide-ranging view of the media industry. In this episode he brings that insight to bear on the lure of scale for publishers, the role of VCs, and challenging bad media models.

Jacob’s thinks publishers’ mistaken focus on scale comes from strange amnesia that descends on audience information needs. He thinks media forgets about who they are publishing for, partly because the internet made the ‘who’ harder to understand. “All we cared about was ‘how many’ when scale became possible.”

Of course media companies have to care about how many people are reading their content, but he says if you don’t have enough of the right people reading your content, you have a problem. Using the example of an HR publisher, he says, “I’d rather have 1,000 HR professionals reading me than 100,000 non HR professionals reading me.”


Independent reaches 5m registered users as revenue grew 12% year-on-year in 2022

The Independent now has more than five million registered users, while advertising no longer makes up the majority of revenue.

The Independent had a good year last year. With a registered user base over 5 million and advertising accounting for just over 40% of revenue, it has met two of its longstanding targets. The Independent has been in profit every year since going digital-only in 2016. Operating profit for 2022 fell 65%, but that is down to investments in e-commerce, Independent TV and a move into the US.


The store is for people, but the storefront is for robots

Selling real things to real people means writing a steady stream of nonsense text that only web crawlers will ever read.

The Verge thinks the SEO arms race has left the web drowning in ‘garbage text’, with customers and businesses ‘flailing to find each other’. This piece features an online retailer that has two websites, one for people and one for the bots. The result, says the Verge, is SEO chum produced at scale, faster and cheaper than ever before.


Boris Johnson has breached rules in taking Daily Mail job, says watchdog

Acoba says former PM has clearly broken rules by not telling it about column until half an hour before it was publicly announced

I don’t suppose we should be surprised by anything Boris Johnson or the Daily Mail does, but this is beyond crass. The day after a parliamentary committee found the UK’s ex-PM guilty of lying to parliament, he broke the rules again by signing on as a Daily Mail columnist without giving relevant notice. We can only hope it isn’t long before BoJo’s inability to tell the truth gets the Mail sued.

More from Media Voices


Big Noises: Barry Adams on why AI will not kill SEO

In this latest episode of our Big Noises series, we hear from SEO Capo Barry Adams about the past, present and future of SEO for news.


Content is king? ‘Complete b*ll*cks; says media veteran Neil Thackray

If content was truly king, Neil believes the starting point would be a content-focused publishing strategy, but he doesn’t see that.


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