New website Quartz rethinks economy coverage

Published: Monday, Dec. 17 2012 4:20 p.m. MST

Nearly three months after its inception, the financial website Quartz is growing roots and learning on the fly during the early stages of what could escalate into a guerrilla war against established journalism outlets best known for covering financial news.

“Quartz, like The Economist and the Financial Times, covers global economic news through a macro lens,” Lauren Indvik wrote Monday for the media and technology website Mashable. “Its tone, however, is less formal and more conversational than your average business publication — it's more ‘webby,’ you might say. With an editorial staff of 25, its coverage abilities are somewhat limited in scope, and so Quartz opts to go deep on a few key topics, like the fiscal cliff, rather than skim across many. Perhaps most notably, all of Quartz's content is free, designed to be read and consumed on a multitude of devices and social networks.”

The new Mashable article — which includes a Q&A with Quartz editor in chief Kevin Delaney — additionally reported Quartz attracted 840,000 and 860,000 unique visitors during October and November, respectively. Also, 40 percent of Quartz’s traffic comes from social-media sites such as Twitter, Digg and Facebook — a referral rate significantly higher than The Economist’s website, where 15 percent of traffic comes from social media.

Quartz, an Atlantic Media property, launched Sept. 24. Two days later, the Columbia Journalism Review predicted, “The greatest challenge for Quartz will be attracting a readership away from well-established brands (and much bigger newsroom resources) of places like The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal, especially with the wide-ranging topics its reporters plan to cover. Given that Quartz is unlikely to match its competitors on original reporting, editors are hoping that the site’s visual appeal and personal tone will take them far.”

The Quartz “About” page proclaims, “Like Wired in the 1990s and The Economist in the 1840s, Quartz embodies the era in which it is being created. The financial crisis that recently engulfed much of the world wasn’t just a cyclical decline or a correction or even a bubble bursting. It was a breaking point. And its shockwaves exposed a fundamentally changed economic order with new leaders and ways of doing business.”

Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at jaskar@desnews.com or 801-236-6051.

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