OLD Media Moves

Quartz is a technological and structural innovator

September 25, 2012

Posted by Chris Roush

Joshua Benton of the Nieman Journalism Lab critiques the new business news site Quartz, which launched on Monday.

Benton writes, “While Quartz’s design cues and content structures are interesting to news nerds and web types, it’ll be the content that’ll ultimately determine how it’ll do. That’s hard to judge on Day 1, but the mix of content seems just as global as promised and nearly as high-end. (It’s so high-end it doesn’t allow comments. For Quartz’s desired audience, it’s probably welcome to soar above the ground-bound commenting riff-raff.) It’s also not above a little Atlantic-style clickbait now and then.

“As C.W. Anderson wrote here last week, Quartz is organizing its editorial capacity around what it calls ‘obsessions’ rather than beats. That is an interesting idea, but it’s one that in practice is less of a big deal than some first thought.

“Chris (C.W.) writes that an obsessions model could help free reporting from an institutional structure (the cops beat, the courts beat, the schools beat, etc.) that influences which stories are told and why. True, but that’s also a bigger deal for a newspaper than for an operation like Quartz that has only about 20 staffers, yet claims as its coverage area something as amorphous and all-encompassing as global business.

“Of course they’re not going to tie up their reporters with the captain-of-industry equivalent of school board meetings — they’re going to pick their shots, as Businessweek or Fortune do. Remember Quartz is more a magazine than anything else: from staff size to parentage (Atlantic Media) to inspiration (see that list of magazines-in-their-age).

“Quartz’s list of ‘current obsessions’ doesn’t sound all that far from what would be considered beats at other news orgs: the mobile web, the Euro crunch, startups.”

Read more here.

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