The business and tech publisher The Information offers something else with its new area of opinion: perspective.
For this task, the company hired former Wall Street Journal reporter Kevin Delaney, better known as the co-founder and former editor of the digital-first-business publication Quartz.
Delaney promises to take advantage of the new industry, which released its first opinions earlier this month and officially released in January, to help build the sense of community among viewers of The Information while avoiding some of the worst instincts from opinion sides.
Adweek met with Delaney to discuss what makes it different and how opinion journalism fits into a subscription model.
This interview has been compressed and edited for reasons of clarity.
So what is unique about The Information’s approach to opinion journalism?
The information has always had a large community of readers among decision makers in technology, media, finance, consulting – those kinds of industries – and they come for the exclusive coverage. There is a community of people interacting at events and in the commentary section of the coverage, and it was clear that there was an opportunity to include them in discussions about ideas related to the topics covered in the information. These are people who understand the value of ideas, and we could serve them by actually starting an opinion section.
The voices we get it to – and you might have seen some of the names: Tracy Chou at the Block Party; Joanna Coles, former chief content officer at Hearst; Nadia Eghbal, who is now at Substack; Arlan Hamilton, managing partner at Backstage Capital, a VC firm. It’s a diverse group of voices in areas The Information covers and we’re excited to start in January.
You mentioned the community. The founder and editor-in-chief of Information, Jessica Lessin, recently tweeted: “Too often [opinion journalism is] Play in front of an audience and designed to troll, not inform. “What’s the difference between building a community and playing for your own audience??
Our goal is to inform, not to troll. Too often sections of opinion are so ideologically hidden that they are only predictable and ultimately boring. You know what people are going to say and they stop being interesting. Or they’re so ideological that one of their main purposes is to troll people who may disagree with them.
Because of the nature of what we are writing about, it is not a game of political orientation or loyalty. We’re only looking for the brightest people to write on topics that interest this readership.
[Our] Readers really care about things that are really high in protein. Maybe it’s pieces that are a little nerdy or more intellectual than what you might read elsewhere. You are hungry for ideas that have been developed with a deep degree of sophistication. So this is a different way of reacting in a predictable way to what’s happening in Washington right now, which is common on other opinion groups.
We want to surprise and challenge the readership to bring them ideas that they may not have considered before.
What are the differences in starting a subscription-supported media business versus an ad-supported one?
We have a great community of subscribers and we want to provide them with more value with this opinion section. So we are not interested in trolling, clickbait or anything like that. I can imagine that this is some of the pressure you might feel in an ad-supported area of opinion.
The biggest difference is that the information readership is a really engaged community. You are there every day. They are there for the journalism The Information produces. You are very committed. This is actually quite a unique and exciting opportunity to post ideas to this community and get a response. What we have seen so far is that they are really receptive and interested in contributing to their opinions.