Small Teams of Reporters Doing Big Things

Jeff Bercovici who writes a blogumn called “Mixed Media” for Portfolio, mentions an interesting new media startup called Prism that’s being put together by Merrill Brown, founding editor of, and some of his cohorts.

The mission of Prism, according to Brown, is “to develop a platform that would make it easy for a potential publisher in a large market to launch a website,” one that would, through a mix of original content and aggregation, offer a news product similar in scope of coverage to a daily paper. And do it, of course, with a minimum of labor.
“The innovation here is demonstrating that the answer to the current problem is not to figure out necessarily how to finance big newsrooms and companies with hundreds of people,” says Brown, who has consulted for “most of the big brand-name news companies” at one time or another. “We’ll prove that 15 smart, web-savvy people going into a large market can create a site of real value and scale.”
While Brown says he and his partners would like to own and operate a couple such sites, the larger goal of Prism is to create a franchise model that partners can use to start their own. Who are the potential franchisees? He cites “civic leaders around the country who are concerned about the civic impact of not having a daily newspaper” and former journalists or publishing executives who’ve been forced out of work by the industry’s contraction.

I sometimes think about what AdPulp could achieve if we had 10 real reporters working the ad, marketing and media beats. While we’re not actively seeking investment dollars, if an angel did appear, that’s clearly what we’d use the money for.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.