May 21, 2019 - Economy

Exclusive: Al Jazeera is launching a business site

Photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images

Al Jazeera is planning to launch a cross-platform business vertical called AJ Impact, executives tell Axios. It will feature original reporting from Al Jazeera journalists worldwide, as well as curated business content from Bloomberg.

Why it matters: To date, Al Jazeera has mostly focused on hard news topics, like politics, breaking news and current events. AJ Impact, which will focus on topics like personal finance, economic inequality, and impact investing, represents a significant departure from its traditional areas of focus.

Details: AJ Impact will have a standalone site, but it will also live across digital video, podcasts, social media and television.

  • The site will feature international business coverage and will be helmed by a team based in new offices in New York dedicated to AJ Impact, with bureaus in Kuala Lumpur, London and Doha.
  • The site will be led by Patricia Sabga, who currently serves as managing business editor at Al Jazeera Digital.
  • Sabga says the company has pulled together a team of 10 full-time staffers to launch the site, and that 20 are expected to be a part of this effort by the end of the year.
  • "The global economy is not just made up of high net worth individuals," Sabga says. "Everyone can have a voice in it."

Between the lines: The decision to launch the vertical was an editorial one, says Michael Weaver, senior VP of business development and growth at Al Jazeera, although there are obvious business benefits. "There's a white space we see in business coverage today," Weaver says. "A lot of our audience around the world feels like business coverage talks past them."

  • Al Jazeera is mostly funded by the Qatari government, but the company has begun to scale commercialization, mostly via advertising over the past year and a half.
  • Weaver says that part of the company's strategy in launching the vertical is to "enter the world of commercialization [advertising] so that the company can monetize its news independently."
  • "Softer content can be easier to monetize for us on platforms like Facebook and Google, and it's another portal for our audiences to grow. "

The big picture: It's part of a growing trend of news companies that are expanding their business and technology verticals in order to prepare for news demand after the world of Trump-dominated news headlines eventually dies down.

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