If you haven’t heard of the recently departed MediaGuardian, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s the kind of publication you sometimes see on newsstands that describes you as a “Woman About Town.”
Founder and CEO Vivek Shah, an Indian-born Canadian-American, covered journalism for the BBC and Newsweek before launching the website in 2003. His cutthroat insider culture, edgy reporting and expert investigations brought the goal of aggressive, top-down online journalism to the attention of many business and media leaders and allowed him to sell the multimedia, newspaper-like MediaGuardian to the U.K.’s Guardian Media Group in 2007.
Now Shah will have to face the challenges of turning around the newspaper’s high costs and declining readership. Many of us WPNI readers are hoping for more stories about tangle-cutter global cooling futures, repressed or screwed-up media moguls, and buyouts of public relations veterans for a condiment company or management consulting firm, but you’re stuck with the boring content I’ve already posted to my Blogging CEO page.
Bolting MediaGuardian to the Guardian should be a breeze, however. Shah’s media world was far less politically correct, left of center and influenced by fast-changing celebrity culture than the U.K. version.
Still, if Shah is going to own the journalism model for the coming generation, we’ll need to see more stories by Internet journalists about high-end print journalists in the grip of corporate suicide—something that hasn’t happened in a generation or two.
But I’ll be curious to see Shah write about his own immediate future. Hiring a quality media strategist with an established credibility in Washington might be a wise move (see Andrew Ross Sorkin). Then there’s the senior talent on his team (one of whom, Martin Walker, has recently begun mentoring CNN’s Atlantic Wire) who have a stake in turning this Internet startup into a new dominant online publishing model.
Nothing confirms the status of a promising young entrepreneur like having his guidance from the most distinguished media-minded person in the world, which is certainly the case with Shah.
Randy Cohen is an associate editor at washingtonpost.com and will remain with the newspaper.
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