OLD Media Moves

In which Henry Blodget tries to hire an FT reporter

November 15, 2013

Posted by Chris Roush

Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson of The Financial Times interviewed Business Insider founder and editor Henry Blodget, examining his past on Wall Street and the future of business news online.

Edgecliffe-Johnson writes, “His formula for Business Insider is a mix of instant comment on Fed announcements and iPhone launches with click-chasing lists and, increasingly, in-depth reporting. A slideshow of ‘the sexiest CEOs alive’ earned 2m views but 20,000-word profiles of Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and AOL’s Tim Armstrong got as many clicks between them. This blend of lowbrow and highbrow is not unlike a newspaper, Blodget argues, where ‘the dining and motoring sections pay for the Iraq bureau.’ But, with headlines such as ’11 Elon Musk quotes that show his genius,’ is it prone to hype? ‘I have seen what it is like to be utterly savaged in the press. I have also seen what it is like to be absurdly lionised,’ he says. What he tells his team is that ‘somebody doing something stupid doesn’t make them an idiot.’

“In September, Blodget’s chief technology officer left abruptly after a blog pointed out his controversial tweets about feminism, poverty and race. What happened? ‘I’m going to stick with our statement,’ he replies, pointing to a boiler-plate line about the comments not reflecting Business Insider’s values. Had you not noticed his tweets months earlier, I ask? ‘We acted very quickly and decisively,’ he says. I suggest that he would not let his own reporters settle for such a non-answer: ‘You FT guys are incredibly excellent and trained interviewers… You’re hired!’ he laughs uncomfortably as our plates are cleared.

“In the angst-ridden news industry, Blodget stands out as a raging bull. The world is better informed than ever, he argues, and journalism is blessed by great new storytelling formats. He is confident digital economics can sustain serious reporting. While he predicts digital news networks will have ‘hundreds of millions’ of dollars in revenues in 10 to 20 years, for now Business Insider’s sales are a fraction of those at, for example, the Washington Post.

“The site has been profitable but has chosen to invest, he says, adding that the level of industry competition means ‘there desperately needs to be a lot more consolidation’ between digital news brands.”

Read more here.

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