After Ben Smith left BuzzFeed to join the New York Times two years ago, the constant impetus in the media was that the move reflected the surface of a market that had previously become the fifth. It would have been as confusing as BuzzFeed, it turned out to have no support and a desire to get rid of Establishment Media afterwards.
And the Times, in particular, which seemed to struggle for the first ten years, justified itself. He owned a thriving business because he owned it exchanged advertising dollars for reader subscription dollars. It was making excellent journalism, and it was promoting the best talent. “The New York Times was shocked by BuzzFeed. He has now hired his senior manager, ”He said this person.
Now, Smith is leaving NYT for … a new introduction to media. It is an unspecified outfit that he is building in collaboration with Justin Smith, who has been running Bloomberg Media for eight years. Is it time for a new story?
Probably not. Since Smith’s departure from BuzzFeed, the Times has been working tirelessly to remove aspiring journalists from digital and social media sites. We know this very well from Vox, as the list of NYT recruits includes Ezra Klein, who started Vox in 2014 and moved to the Times in late 2020.
So I asked Smith what we could do to get him moving into the Highly Established Media and back. I have a kind of shrug emoji: “The accordions accordion,” Smith told me today. “The pendulum is swinging.”
My interpretation: Both Ben Smith and Justin Smith are so ambitious – so ambitious that having two top gigs on TV was not enough for them. By making their own products – funded by other people’s money – they will be the owners, not just the employees. This was a statement made by many founders a few years ago, but it is not appealing to many journalists as we have seen the generation of media founders hit their heads on the roof.
Which means that Smith is confident that he will be able to pay this amount from the start. David Bradley, a former Atlantic owner who hired Justin Smith as his business manager there, had previously told the Wall Street Journal that he wanted to invest.
But Bradley sold most of his land in the Atlantic to Laurene Powell Jobs among other things because she did not have the necessary funds to support journalism. That’s why Smith may need more than his money. Powell Jobs himself is not a new businessman, someone who knows his business tells me.
Ben Smith did not want to tell me again about his supporters: “We’ll announce when we’re ready.” (If you want to know how difficult it is to get anything useful from Smith when he is on a magical journey, check out his interesting and amazing interview. New Yorker.)
Regarding translation: What exactly does the Smiths want to build? It’s going to be huge, he says, and it catches the attention of an audience of “200 million college students worldwide” – an interesting narrator Ben Smith used in the New York Times, and one that David Bradley also mentioned as Justin Smith in the Journal.
And beyond that, it is very difficult. “I think there are a lot of places for media outlets,” Ben Smith told me, adding that racist ideologies, as well as media organizations that follow social media, have weakened the trust that consumers have in other media.
Ha? I understand that the responsibility comes from Justin Smith, who has been for the past eight years to a publisher who takes a lot of pain to present himself as a bone marrow, a commercial broadcaster to the audience. A little bit from Smith, who enjoys changing the press conference. He is a great man published the so-called “Trump Dossier” in 2017, which angered many publishers at the time and he says to this day.
Also, I do not think that Smith’s comment about his new book is so important, even to the people who support or work for him. They will sell the new group based on their resume and releases before making journalism. And once it starts making things, then the thing that becomes important.
If you want to hear more about Justin Smith’s ideas, you can listen to Recode Media interviews I did with him last fall – when it turned out he was talking to Ben Smith about starting a new business.
And for now let’s give Ben Smith one last word: in response to my suggestion that his time in the Times, which began on March 1, 2020, was brief. “Does the start of March 2020 seem short to you?” Smith said.