By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Tag: The Messenger

Did Patrick Soon-Shiong want to merge The Messenger with the LA Times?

If Patrick Soon-Shiong really did want to merge his Los Angeles Times with The Messenger, as Natalie Korach and Emily Smith write at The Wrap, then it’s just further evidence that he really, truly does not know what he’s doing.

“Patrick was very keen to do the merger – which is why the announcement to staff about The Messenger closing was delayed,” an unnamed source tells Korach and Smith. “Patrick had the money, and at that point, Jimmy [Finkelstein, The Messenger’s founder] would have taken anything,” said the first individual with knowledge of the negotiations.”

Their lead, though, tells a different story, asserting that “the Los Angeles Times insisted that there was no such deal on the table, only a desperate call from Finkelstein to owner Patrick Soon-Shiong, according to an insider there.”


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The Messenger meets the Reaper

The short, predictably unsuccessful life of The Messenger was one of those media stories that I followed out of the corner of one eye. Observers I trust, like Joshua Benton of Nieman Lab, argued from the start that there was no business model in the 2020s for a free, large-scale national news outlet based on building a mass audience and selling advertising to them. After all, that’s what Facebook is for.

The end came Wednesday, less than a year after its debut. Josh Marshall, who’s built Talking Points Memo into a financially sustainable outlet for news and commentary through digital subscriptions, has an astute piece on what went wrong. He writes:

The Messenger was also a specific kind of failure. There is an uncanniness to it since it was perhaps uniquely predictable. In fact, it was so predictable it’s still a real mystery why the site was able to come into existence in the first place. This isn’t snark or crocodile tears. It’s a very strange story. This requires some explanation.

Marshall’s commentary is worth reading in full if you’re the sort who geeks out over this stuff, as I do.

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