Jul 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: D.C. journalists launch media company with $10 million+ funding

Laura McGann and Mark Bauman. Photo: Perrin Doniger, SVP digital of the new startup

Laura McGann, former politics editor of Vox.com and Politico, and Mark Bauman, previously with the Smithsonian, National Geographic and ABC News, are teaming up to launch a yet-to-be named, "confidential" media company.

Why it matters: McGann and Bauman say they're looking to build a newsroom that goes deep on select topic areas like misinformation, climate and Chinese geopolitics.

  • "Our goal is to build a newsroom of beat reporters, subject matter experts, visual journalists and editors that all come together to cover the biggest stories of the day," McGann says. "We'll be creating new formats that give our audience a fuller look at big news stories that can be confusing if you read them piecemeal."

Details: The pair has already raised more than $10 million in a series A funding round from two investors: One is a U.S.-based individual that the company declines to name; The second is International Media Investments, a UAE-based fund that has a minority stake in Euronews, Europe's top international news network, Sky News Arabia and others.

  • McGann will serve as the outlet's editorial lead. Bauman will work as president and CEO, overseeing the business side of the operation.
  • The pair will report to a board of five news and politics veterans: David Ensor, Chris Isham, Madhulika Sikka, Alberto Fernandez and John Defterios.
  • Matthew Yglesias, McGann's former Vox Media colleague, will join as editor at large. "He’s going to pioneer new policy writing formats for us," McGann says.
  • The outlet will invest heavily in data visualizations, and integrate expertise from contributors. Yglesias will be key in helping the newsroom work with outside experts, like academics.

The company has already hired about two dozen people, with roughly half contributing to editorial operations. Two of the company's editorial hires include Kay Steiger, former Washington editor for Vox.com, and Tom Nagorski, formerly the COO of the Asia Society and managing editor of ABC News.

  • The company has 22 job openings posted on its website. It hopes to have at least 60 people on staff by year's end, depending on how many they decide to hire as full-time editorial staff or contractors, per Bauman. The company will be based in Washington, D.C.
  • The focus at launch will be on three key topic areas: Policy and politics (led by Steiger), geopolitics and global affairs (led by Nagorski) and science and technology.
  • "We are very interested in AI and bias," McGann added.
  • The company is also hiring an investigations editor to build a team to break news.

Be smart: Bauman says the outlet will be funded via advertising and sponsorships of the site's editorial and live events. Later, the company hopes to launch a consulting line.

What to watch: The outlet is expected to launch officially in late September.

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