Grid, a ‘Fuller Picture’ News Site, Goes Live
Grid, a news site more than a year in the making, went live early Wednesday, with the goal of becoming a one-stop media shop for detailed renderings of the biggest stories of the day and why they matter.
Mark Bauman, who covered war and genocide around the world for ABC News before becoming a top executive at National Geographic and the Smithsonian Institution, started Grid because, he said, he had become frustrated with the coverage of important issues.
“A lot of my friends and I bounce between more than a dozen sites a day, trying to make sense of what’s become an increasingly complex news cycle, and that’s hardly a unique experience,” he said in an interview. “I mean, a medical report on one site will tell me how the latest Covid variant will affect my health but won’t say anything about how it affects the supply chain.”
Mr. Bauman, who started the project in August 2020, said he had raised about $10 million in the first round of funding from Abu Dhabi-based International Media Investments and Brian Edelman, a tech executive. In March, he hired Laura McGann, formerly an editorial director at Vox, to build the newsroom and establish Grid’s editorial identity.
“Our job is not to incrementally cover the news,” Ms. McGann said in an interview. “We think that lots of places do that well. We’re watching the news and thinking, ‘OK, how can we freeze-frame and help people see a fuller picture?’”
The digital publication’s magic bullet is a story format that Ms. McGann calls “a 360,” which examines a single topic from a variety of viewpoints. An article published Wednesday, for instance, looks at the issue of Covid-19 vaccination refusals by pregnant people with contributions from reporters who specialize in science, misinformation, politics and race.
“We can give you a story that shows you what you need to know from different angles and prioritizes what really matters, not necessarily what’s new or what just happened,” Ms. McGann said.
She added that she encouraged her reporters from different beats to join forces on their stories, creating an interdisciplinary approach that is meant to set Grid apart from other sites, along with an emphasis on infographics.
There is no shortage of competition. In addition to the big news organizations and seasoned online publications, media start-ups of recent vintage include Axios, the quick-hit Washington news site founded by the Politico alumni Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen and Roy Schwartz; Air Mail, a general interest weekly led by the former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter; Puck, co-founded by the editor Jon Kelly, who worked under Mr. Carter at Vanity Fair; Punchbowl News, an insider-y Washington publication started by three former Politico journalists; Lookout Local, a local news company backed in part by the Knight Foundation and led by the media analyst Ken Doctor; and Substack, the digital newsletter platform that is home to Glenn Greenwald, Heather Cox Richardson and Bari Weiss.
Capital B, a nonprofit news outlet for Black communities led by Lauren Williams, a former editor in chief of Vox, is scheduled to arrive this year. And Ben Smith, the former New York Times media columnist, and Justin Smith, a former Bloomberg Media chief executive, announced plans last week for a global news site with ambitions of reaching 200 million readers.
Based in Washington, Grid is starting with a staff of more than 20 journalists, and it is still hiring. The team includes Chris Geidner, a former MSNBC columnist and BuzzFeed News editor; Kay Steiger, a former Vox Washington editor; and Tom Nagorski, a former ABC News managing editor. The Vox co-founder Matt Yglesias will be an editor at large and will host a Grid podcast with Ms. McGann, while continuing his Substack newsletter.
Unlike many other new digital publications, Grid does not have a paywall. Mr. Bauman said the site would bring in money through advertising, with a goal of creating subscription products and potentially branching out into consulting and software.
“We’re writing for anyone who wants or needs greater clarity on the most important stories of the day, and we think there are millions of people out there who fit that description,” Mr. Bauman said.
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