November 4, 2015 Last Updated 12:22 pm

First look: Boston Globe Media’s STAT, a new health, medicine and life sciences website

Globe and Red Sox owner John Henry backs major new website, with separate editorial and business staff, dedicated to covering health and life sciences issues on a national scale

The Boston Globe got a new owner in 2013 and whether things will work out for readers, the staff and the owner, John Henry, is yet to be determined. But the company has done one thing not seen much in other newspaper companies: launched new journalism brands.

Stat-homepageAn example of this launch mentality is Crux, the new website dedicated to covering the Catholic faith, launched last year. The Globe had been covering the scandal in the Catholic Church for years, and Catholics make up about 45 percent of Bostonians, so a site dedicated to “covering all things Catholic” certainly seemed a natural thing to do.

But the new site is not just a subsection of or, but a new news destination, though one that can share content with the Globe.

Now, the company has launched a second branded website, one that will cover the health, medicine and life sciences. Called STAT, the new media outlet has been busy staffing up because it has far larger ambitions, at least as far as its reach is concerned.

STAT is led by Rick Berke, who for 27 years was with The New York Times. In 2013 he became Executive Editor at Politico, but left after only ten months. He was, as they say, conveniently available when owner John Henry came calling (hey, I know the feeling).

What was created was a new company, one with a large staff at launch – 55 names appear on the staff page at launch, almost ten times the size of the staff dedicated to Crux.

“STAT’s creation as a separate company from The Globe grew out of my view — and the belief of editorial and business leaders at The Globe — that a news organization can be most nimble when it is built organically for the digital age,” Henry wrote on the website today. “But STAT also benefits tremendously from being a sister publication to The Boston Globe, one of the most vital and respected news organizations in the country.”

Statnews-iPhone6-380Connected to the Globe, but not weighed down by the Globe may be the best way to put it. Much of the editorial content currently on the STAT website has previously run in the pages of the Globe, but going forward editorial will freely move between the two properties.

As journalism is not the focus of TNM, digital publishing is, it is best to not dwell too much on this aspect of STAT – but it is important to understand what the site is trying to accomplish editorially.

“While Greater Boston has a critical mass drawing the best and the brightest in health and medicine, major life sciences stories could not be covered by focusing solely on Boston,” Henry said. “We had to build an international workforce to cover the kinds of stories we began to see almost immediately. As a result, STAT has already hired reporters in Washington, in New York, and in San Francisco. We’ll eventually cover the world first-hand with reporters embedded within communities of cutting-edge research and innovation.”

The new site is most definitely mobile-first in its design. While attractive on the desktop, it does tend to get a bit boxy in look beyond the top of the page. On a mobile device, however, this works perfectly.

But on any reading device, the editorial pages are modern, attractive and readable.

The new site will be ad supported, though it sadly has launched without any visible advertising already sold.

Magazine veteran Angus Macaulay is the chief revenue officer. Macaulay came over from Pace Communications where he was Group Vice President, Marketing and Sales. But his experience at Time Inc. where he handled accounts such as Johnson & Johnson and Merck is probably what made him a fit for the new position. He also has time at Hearst and Rodale.

Henry, who is also owner of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC, certainly has the deep pockets to make STAT into a major news brand for life sciences globally. He may need those deep pockets, though, as I feel STAT has launched very much skewed towards the editorial side of the business rather than more balanced.

I would have liked to have seen some paid ads on the site this morning, for instance – and the paid content products hinted at in other stories on the launch of STAT have not yet been fleshed out. I still find it odd that new media brands can be created today without thoroughly working through business model issues. Guess it is old fashioned these days to think revenue before launching.

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