The reasoning behind biz news site Quartz
by Chris Roush
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
Kevin Delaney is the editor of Quartz, a new business news site coming in September from Atlantic Media. It is located in New York, with offices opening soon in Asia and Europe.
Delaney came to Atlantic Media from The Wall Street Journal, where he served as managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Online. He was responsible for its editorial content and direction amid a period of rapid growth and successful expansion to new platforms such as the iPad. Prior to that post, he spent a decade as a reporter and senior special writer for the Journal, covering the Internet and other topics from the Paris and San Francisco bureaus.
Delaney began his career at Dow Jones & Co. in 1996, working as a producer for Wall Street Journal television projects before moving to report for SmartMoney, and then for The Journal.
Last month, Quartz announced some hires, bringing on board a commentary editor, a Washington correspondent and a lifestyles editor, among others. It has also hired Gideon Lichfield from The Economist, who is the global news editor, and Zach Seward, who was in charge of social media at the Wall Street Journal, who is a senior editor. Its jobs listings are here.
Why start a business news site?
We think there is an opportunity to cover the new global economy in a way that has not been fully done with a very aggressive digital approach to publishing. What we mean by the new global economy is how the economy is global and how the centers of the economy are different than they were 100 years ago. We hope to cover that obsessively and think there is a way to do that in the way Wired magazine covered technology beginning in the 1990s.
How will it be different than other business news sites?
We’re taking two approaches that are different from a traditional media organization. We’re taking a tablet and mobile-first approach. It is our first reference for architecture. We will have a desktop website at lunch, but what you realize if you start with a tablet you come with a different structure. It’s probably a little early for us to talk about it, but what I can say is that this is not a facsimile of a traditional business news site. The reason is that we put a premium on usability with tablet and mobile and getting the information to people as efficiently as possible.
The second thing is we are creating a newsroom that is totally focused on digital. The 700-word article is not the default unit of production. We will write shorter, and we will write longer. We have great ambitions of working with data and data visualizations and photos, and we will do all of this in a way that is profoundly journalistic but not limited by the traditional text article format.
How will it generate revenue?
We are advertising supported. And we have great confidence in that business model.
Who do you see as your biggest competitors?
We’re covering business and business news and doing that globally, so there are competitors. But we’re also taking a different approach to it. So I think it’s too early to give you an answer for that. We want to attract a lot of readers who read the big business publications, but we also want to cast the net widely and reach people globally. Our competitive set will be better defined over time.
Is this site going to be more about breaking news, or will this be analysis and commentary?
It’s going to be a combination of both. I should clarify. We’re covering the news. We’re not a news organization of record. So we won’t be covering every twitch in the market. What we will do is weigh in on the essential issues that our readers will need to know about. We’re not going to cover every company’s quarterly earnings, as a matter of example. Our core coverage will be what we call our obsessions. There are a number of themes that are important to a global business professional. We will cover those themes to keep our readers up to data and informed and educated.
Can you give me an example of an obsession?
These obsessions are fluid and we are still working them out. One could be the Chinese consumer. You could argue that if you can understand the Chinese consumer, you can understand the economy and China making the economic transition it needs to make, the stability of the Chinese government and China as a market for companies. So that could be one of our obsessions.
What type of people are you looking to hire?
We’re looking for journalists and have hired a bunch of journalists who are first and foremost good journalists. Secondly, they have for the most part some international experience and language skills and they are people who are digital numerate, somewhat nerdy in that they may become obsessed with specific questions. Within that, there are a variety of skills. Some have worked at large news organizations for years such as The Journal, The Economist, the Financial Times, the Washington Post, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Bloomberg, AP. But we’re hiring people who know the trade of business journalism especially well but are looking for opportunities to innovate and to take a broad world view.
That’s not something that I can talk about right now. But our goals are ambitious.
Why the name Quartz?
Quartz is an interesting word. Quartz the mineral is present, according to researchers, with tectonic activity. Our goal is to cover the tectonic shifts in the economy, so Quartz is an interesting metaphor for that. It is also an interesting word for us as writers because it uses Q and Z, two of the least used words in the English language. And we were able to get the domain name qz.com, which we thought was great and digital and global and practical and efficient. We don’t need a domain shortener.
The Internet seems crowded with business news sites. How will you stand out?
The opportunity for us is to do something that is truly global in its coverage and ambitious in its mobile and tablet platforms and that is a place of great innovation in how journalism is practiced with an eye to a natively digital newsroom and platform. Our belief is that the combination of those things is powerful. We’re worked in traditional newsrooms and organizations and think that there is a real difference in what we will produce for readers.