These mornings Michael Hvass and Michael Kremer can be found in the reception discussing a great, complex idea: How do we build a platform that gives people access to a multitude of ways of looking at the world? The answer, they are sketching out, is Publia, which over time shall collect quality journalism from China to Paraguay.
“We will offer stories and analysis with a lasting quality – slow news – from the best media outlets in every country; the established newspapers, but also that small South African magazine you’ve never heard about,” Michael Hvass says.
Content will be translated into English, if it does not speak in that tongue already. The first media partners include The Guardian, Washington Post, and Bloomberg. Users of Publia are to pay for a monthly subscription. Hvass and Kremer have not decided on a price yet, but it will be higher than the cost of an online paper (currently New York Times gives you full access for less than 6 euros a month). The timing for rethinking media is not bad. The “all the readers are leaving” cry of the industry has become less desperate in recent years, since it’s clear they went mobile and digital. They did not evaporate into thin air.
“We want to provide readers with one point of entry to the news, so they don’t have to manage five different digital subscriptions,” Michael Kremer says.
“The media outlets should not just deliver cat videos, but they need to adjust to user behavior.”
He met his co-founder Hvass at the IT University of Copenhagen from which they graduated in 2008. With a combined background in IT management and user experience, the partners were wise enough to add an advisory board of media professionals to Publia. After many publications killed their foreign bureaus the startup could fill a gap in the market for global coverage. A local journalist in a remote region can be a correspondent for a mass audience, if Publia works out.
“The subscription is customizable, so you can follow a specific writer instead of the publication. Or you can subscribe to a topic across sources or another user’s reading list,” Kremer says.
Parts of Publia resemble the Spotify model, but that is to simplify the ambition of the founders. They talk about fueling a “sustainable loop”, where they sell detailed data to their media partners on when users clicked away from an article. That knowledge should make it easier for editorial teams to create what people want, Hvass points out.
“The media outlets should not just deliver cat videos, but they need to adjust to user behavior. Otherwise people quit the news, and it’s a democratic problem, if people are not informed.”
Publia is currently in a phase of raising funding and setting up content partnerships. A beta launch of the platform is scheduled for fall 2015. Sign up on Publia.co