September 6, 2017 Last Updated 2:27 pm

Media launches: TMZ co-founder launches competitor in The Blast; The Atlantic creates membership program, The Masthead

While one new digital media property will specialize in celebrity news, the other will look to find daily exclusive stories worth paying extra for without at the same time diminishing the magazine and website’s own content quality

There were a couple of new media launches announced today — and by new media I mean digital media. Both media companies gave exclusives to other sites so there no reason to go to much into them other than to pass along the links and reproduce the press releases.

I will mention, though, that media companies do some strange things these days to promote themselves. Both The Blast and The Atlantic appear to be more interested in making sure they get one good story written about them than doing a more widespread marketing campaign. This is something I have noticed in general with digital media.

Take, for instance, the new digital publishing platforms, it is rare to see them invest much in either advertising or public relations — it may be why they come and go so quickly, and rare can hang on to their clients for longer than a couple of years. Marketing is used to not only attract new clients, after all, but also to convince your existing ones to stick with you.



The New York Times has an extensive look at former TMZ founder Mike Walters’s new venture, called The Blast. If it were not for all the news about Hurricane Irma, White House dealings, and the like, I’m sure journalists would be paying more attention to the launch — because it is another celebrity news site, and journalists love celebrities (along with free food and meaningless awards, but I’ve got nothing on that today).

The venture is backed by Banijay Group, a global production and distribution company, so there is a good shot that The Blast will have things to write about. But the launch seems half-done. The About page, for instance, stills says “Coming Soon.”

Here is the official announcement:


LOS ANGELES, Calif. — September 6, 2017 – Beginning this morning, readers have an essential new source for the biggest celebrity exclusives in the world with The Blast, the multi-platform entertainment brand that launched today.

Several exclusive stories are now available online at TheBlast.com, which is helmed by TMZ co-founder Mike Walters, widely known for breaking some of the biggest celebrity news stories of the past decade. Utilizing a team of best-in-field digital reporters and producers with deep relationships in the celebrity and entertainment landscapes, The Blast aims to redefine celebrity news for the digital age, creating fresh, unfiltered and credible content with a planned 3-screen dominance (desktop, mobile and social) that should ensure a strong, loyal fan-following that actively engages in content across all three platforms.

“At The Blast, our goal is to tell the biggest stories in entertainment fast, first and accurately,” said Walters. “We plan to stand apart by launching with the digital landscape in mind, using only the best technology, an amazing staff of highly-skilled producers and extremely credible news sources. I’ve always wanted to run my own news operation – now I get to live my dream.“

Breaking content will continue to be released and updated 24/7 on TheBlast.com and across all platforms.

Banijay Group, a renowned global production and distribution company, is an investor and strategic partner in The Blast.

“Mike and his top-notch reporting team bring enthusiasm, professionalism and unparalleled drive to news gathering,” said Banijay Studios North America CEO David Goldberg. “Their collective expertise and reputations made this an easy venture to say ‘yes’ to.”



I fail to see the urgent need for a new celebrity news site, so would naturally be more interested in what The Atlantic is doing. It recently announced that it was to be acquired by the Laurene Powell Jobs organization Emerson Collective, and it has also been adding to staff regularly.

It also looking to launch a paid membership program, but not necessarily put all of The Atlantic behind such a scheme. Instead, it wants to create new content for the program, which will be called The Masthead.

In this regard, it is a bit like the NYT’s Insider effort, as well as efforts by several other news organizations to create a premium content tier. But The Atlantic is not looking to place its content from magazine regulars inside the membership program.

That might seem a big confusing, and I’m sure it will be for loyal subscribers to The Atlantic now being asked to pony up for something new. The $10 a month fee is in addition to the $34.50 price that exists for a print and digital subscription. At the same time, most of the magazine’s content is still available for free.

You can read more about The Masthead at Nieman Labs, which got the exclusive on this one (though, to be honest, after reading the story I’m still not sure about how editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg is going to balance the needs to keep The Atlantic’s main product buzzworthy while allowing The Masthead to have content that is worth paying more for.

But paywalls, membership programs, and micropayments is getting to be big business… for the vendors. For publishers… I’m still not so sure.

In any case, here is The Atlantic’s announcement for The Masthead:

Washington, D.C. — September 6, 2017 — Today The Atlantic is introducing The Masthead, a premium membership that delivers exclusive stories, insights, and analysis from The Atlantic’s journalists and thinkers—built on a direct relationship with members. The Masthead is a distinctly new editorial offering—not simply more of, or different access to, The Atlantic’s existing work. Dedicated editors will rely on member input to directly shape coverage and answer their biggest questions, all while tapping The Atlantic’s newsroom and network of experts for exclusive stories and insights. Founding memberships are available today to current Atlantic subscribers, and will be advertised more widely in the coming weeks.

The Atlantic’s editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg is announcing The Masthead in an email to existing subscribers; his full message is below.

The Masthead complements The Atlantic’s five other editorial platforms—the flagship 160-year-old magazine, TheAtlantic.com, events, video, and audio—by offering an avenue through which The Atlantic’s readers can connect with its journalism on an intimate, personal level. At launch, members will receive:

  • Daily exclusive stories and insights from Atlantic editors, writers, and contributors

  • Weekly conversations with journalists

  • Monthly in-depth reports on issues of global import and consequence

  • A members-only forum, where readers can explore ideas with other Masthead members and give feedback to editors

  • Previews of upcoming stories and recaps of arguments and debates across the news landscape

The Masthead launches as The Atlantic has expanded its subscription business this year, and is now reaching the most subscribers to the magazine since the early 2000s (print subscriptions surpassed 570,000 in July 2017, +13% compared to 2H 2016). Despite an industry decline of 12 percent at the newsstand last year, The Atlantic also grew single-copy newsstand sales by 19 percent. TheAtlantic.com audience increased 36 percent in the first half of 2017 over the same period last year, and topped a near-record 38 million monthly unique visitors in August.

Please find Jeffrey Goldberg’s announcement of The Masthead below:<

Dear Subscriber,

Over the past several weeks, we at The Atlantic have been telling you about a major project we are launching: our first-ever membership program.

This morning, as the project—called The Masthead—goes live, I wanted to write you to explain why I think this is so important, and why I hope that you become a founding member of this endeavor.

I have several main goals as The Atlantic’s editor in chief. The first, and most urgent, of course, is to argue for the importance of fact-driven journalism at a time when the president of the United States has declared the press to be the enemy of the American people. My next three goals are related to the first: to make sure we publish journalism that honors our history; to guarantee, by extension, that we provide you, our readers, with journalism that helps you become more informed; and, finally, to ensure that The Atlantic, which celebrates its 160th birthday this November, reaches its bicentennial year as a thriving, self-sustaining business of global reach and clear purpose.

I come from a print background, but I believe that for our journalism to thrive, it should appear on as many platforms as possible. Our founders—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and other eminences of their day—had only one vehicle for sharing their ideas: the printed journal. Today, The Atlantic manifests itself in print, in digital, in video, in live events, and in podcasting.

And now comes a new platform, one that will provide you with direct access to our best writers and thinkers. Our goal is to build a closer relationship with you, one in which you help inform our coverage; one in which we seek answers to your most pressing questions about the world today; one in which we put our newsroom to work delivering you insights and analysis about the issues you care about most.

I am asking you today to join me and become a founding member of The Masthead, a membership club for Atlantic readers. You will not only receive some of our best journalism, written exclusively for our members; you will be directly underwriting The Atlantic’s future. I believe that this is a worthy project, launching at a moment rife with challenges for independent journalism.

Please join us in this next adventure. See below for more details about how you can join The Masthead.

Jeffrey Goldberg
Editor in Chief
The Atlantic

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