Peter Kafka

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HuffPo Co-Founder Ken Lerer’s Stealthy Start-Up Aims at CNN, Fox

Ken Lerer helped build an Internet news powerhouse out of thin air. Now he wants to do it again.

The Huffington Post co-founder, who sold his site to AOL a year ago, is working on another Web news start-up. But Lerer isn’t trying to replicate his old site. Instead, he’s trying to create a digital video news operation built to attract a generation of Web natives who watch Jon Stewart but not CNN or Fox News.

People who have heard Lerer pitch the start-up say he has been vague about the details but broad about his ambitions. Here’s what I know for now, which doesn’t include the project’s name:

  • The site/service is a joint venture between Lerer’s Lerer Ventures and Bedrocket Media, the video start-up that Lerer invested in last year.
  • Lerer is telling potential investors and employees that he’ll be actively involved in the project, along with former HuffPo CEO Eric Hippeau and Bedrocket’s Brian Bedol.
  • The service, which will launch this summer in advance of the U.S. presidential elections, will use a mix of livestreaming video and taped reports, and a mix of professionally produced segments along with contributions from amateurs.
  • While Bedrocket has landed four YouTube “channel” deals for its programming, the new venture won’t be confined to any particular platform. Lerer and company have been promoting the idea that the service will rely heavily on social media like Facebook and Twitter for distribution.
  • The site/service has started hiring production/back-end staff but hasn’t brought in “on air” talent yet. When it does, it will likely look for relatively unknown reporters, not established/expensive TV folks.

There are plenty of other folks trying to figure out how bring TV-style news to the Web, including the TV people themselves. And Web sites that have their roots in “print” journalism are diving into video news, too. That formula usually involves positioning a couple reporters in front of a newsroom camera to discuss the day’s events (if you’d like to see me talk, for instance, I’ll be on The Wall Street Journal’s “Digits” show at 1 pm ET today). Interesting to see if Lerer and company can figure out a new take.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock/Daboost)


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work