‘The Era of the Foreign Correspondent Is Over’: Justin Smith on His Media Start-Up


“The idea that you send some well-educated young graduate from the Ivy League to Mumbai to tell us about what’s going on in Mumbai in 2022 is sort of insane,” Mr. Smith said.

Instead, he said, he will pursue “very educated, English-language-educated journalists all around the world,” describing an opportunity “for scaling local and regional newsrooms at a lower cost.”

He also argued that many foreign news readers were ill served.

“You maybe went to school in the U.S., you’re pretty well educated, you’re connected to your network and your family all around the world — and the quality of your local media is not amazing,” Mr. Smith said. “It’s either state-censored or, it’s just, the journalism’s not great.”

“So what do you do?” he continued. “You say, OK, well, let me let me pick up The New York Times, or let me pick up The Wall Street Journal, or let me pick up The Washington Post. And what do you get? You get exactly what you’d expect if you read something that had the word New York in it, or something that has the word Washington in it. Or you go to CNN and you get a feed from Atlanta, some regional story from the Midwest, and you’re sitting in Singapore.”

(The Post and The Times, among other American outlets, have expanded their reporting presence in Europe in recent years. CNN broadcasts an international feed outside the United States.)

Mr. Smith told his audience that he was reluctant to share too many plans. (“There’s not a huge advantage when you’re starting a new company to be giving away all the specifics.”) But he allowed that he hoped to launch in the United States and “at least one other major international market,” and that a live events business would be integrated. The co-founders are aiming to launch in the second half of this year.

Mr. Smith also said he was intrigued by automated translation of non-English-language news articles. “The quality of translation software for journalism is really quite amazing; it captures subtlety and nuance in a way it did not in previous years,” he said.


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