New York Times media columnist Ben Smith is leaving the outlet to start a new global news organization with Justin Smith stepping down as CEO of Bloomberg Media.
Ben Smith said in an interview that they plan to create a global newsroom that will report news and experiment with new storytelling formats. He did not provide details on what paces or regions would be covered, how much money they planned to raise or when the new organization would begin.
âThere are 200 million people who are university educated, read in English, but no one really treats like an audience, but talk to each other and talk to us,â Ben Smith said. âThis is what we see as our audience. “
Justin Smith, 52, will lead the business side and Ben Smith, 45, will be the new company’s senior editor.
Ben Smith joined The Times in 2020 after an eight-year tenure as editor-in-chief of Buzzfeed. He was previously a journalist for Politico.
Ben Smith said he and Justin Smith have been discussing the fractured state of the news media for years and started talking about starting a new business last fall. The new venture, he said, would aim to deliver news and provide nuance to complex stories, without falling into familiar partisan tropes.
âThe pressures of social media and polarization cause many news agencies to speak contemptuously to their audiences,â he said.
Ben Smith also suggested that the new venture would focus on raising the profile of individual journalists.
âThe talent model for journalism is pretty broken,â he added. âThe audience really feels connected to the person writing the story or making the video. It is a challenge for large institutions.
In a tweet Announcing his departure from Bloomberg, Justin Smith said he was leaving “to pursue a personal dream and a market opportunity.”
In his column for The Times, Ben Smith wrote a number of important articles, including one on the allegations of harassment and abuse of power against the editor of Bild, one of the most powerful newspapers in Germany, which is owned by Axel Springer, a global media giant. business.
His column raising questions about the business practices of Ozy Media and its founder, Carlos Watson, rocked a start-up that claimed to have a large online audience.
âWhat makes Ben special is that he’s such a deeply reporting commentator,â Times editor Dean Baquet said in a statement. âIt’s a pretty rare combination in media writing today. “
At times Mr Smith has been accused of having conflicts of interest when reporting on the media industry because he had shares in Buzzfeed when he joined The Times. In an interview, Mr Smith said he ceded most of those shares.
Mr. Smith picked up the Times media column from Jim Rutenberg. Before Mr. Rutenberg, the columnist post was held for years by David Carr, who died in 2015.
Mr. Smith has experience building a newsroom. He was hired by Jonah Peretti in 2012 to start the news division of Buzzfeed. When he left for The Times in 2020, Mr. Peretti gave him credit for transforming Buzzfeed from a digital news startup into “a world-class global news organization in less than a year. decade”.
BuzzFeed News was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in international reporting in 2018 for his investigative work into agents with apparent ties to Russian President Vladimir V. Putin carrying out targeted assassinations in Britain and the United States. In 2017, he was a Pulitzer Finalist in International Reporting for detailing how multinational corporations have undermined environmental laws.
In January 2017, Mr Smith was also the first editor to publish an unverified dossier containing salacious reports on President Donald J. Trump compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, during the 2016 presidential campaign. .
The decision to publish was hotly debated in politics and the media. Most of the important allegations in the case have not been proven and some have been refuted, most notably by Robert S. Mueller III, the special adviser who oversaw the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Justin Smith joined Bloomberg in 2013 and has helped push the news organization through live events and videos.
âJustin has helped transform Bloomberg Media into a modern, digital leader in the media industry,â Bloomberg founder Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.
Prior to Bloomberg, he worked at Atlantic Media, where he launched business news site Quartz.