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Photo: PNN

A group of media professionals is launching Progress News Network (PNN), a daily 2.5 minute newscast slated to reach 35–40+ year-olds with broadcast-like videos that they plan to promote on Facebook through ads, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: It's a surprising business model considering the fact that Facebook's traffic to publishers has dropped considerably since it began down-ranking content from brands and publishers in the News Feed.

"We believe that Facebook has the ideal targeting and low-cost media reach (.6 CPV) to engage an audience on a platform that is currently almost entirely dominated by extremist conservative voices."
— Steven Rosenbaum, executive producer, PNN

The details: The newscast will launch on Sept. 4 and will air daily on Facebook. It aims to target a general population of news consumers from all sides with the exception of "pro-Trump" Republicans.

  • Rosenbaum says the domination of right-wing voices on internet video inspired him to create counter program and to make it available to people in places where they already spend time. "It's a Facebook-first pub, and I think it has a chance to reach disenfranchised voters who are overwhelmed."

The company is growing out a team of funders and advisers to assist with the project, including:

  • Mark Walsh, media executive turned into a political strategist
  • Roland DeSilva, managing partner and chairman at Oaklins DeSilva & Phillips
  • Amol Sarva, CEO, cofounder of Knotel and cofounder of Virgin Mobile USA
  • Howard Morgan, venture capitalist
  • Colby Hall, founding editor at Mediaite, PNN managing editor

"Ideally we won't get distracted by the shiny objects of conflict, but rather focus on deeper things. Very often the shiny objects of conflict are symptomatic of deeper issues that are being ignored," says Hall.

As far as a business model goes, everyone is working pro-bono between now and the midterms.

  • After the midterms, the company will look to build a business from multiple revenue streams, starting most likely with content sponsorships.
  • For now, the aim is to experiment with which formats work best and to see if there are other platforms, like YouTube, that could be a fit for the show as well.

Our thought bubble: There have been dozens of efforts over the past two years, on the right and the left, to create new internet shows that will help audiences distill fact from fiction online, but most have been unable to cut through and make any real impact.

Meanwhile, Digiday reports that Facebook is continuing its charm offensive with a tool to boost news publishers’ reach on the platform.

Go deeper

FBI, Homeland Security warn of increasing threat to Capitol

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security predict violent domestic extremists attacks will increase in 2021, according to a report reviewed by Axios.

Driving the news: The joint report says an unidentified group of extremists discussed plans to take control of the Capitol and "remove Democratic lawmakers" on or about March 4. The House canceled its plans for Thursday votes as word of the possible threats spread.

25 mins ago - World

Pope Francis set to make first papal visit to Iraq amid possible turmoil

Data: Vatican News; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Pope Francis is forging ahead with the first papal trip to Iraq despite new coronavirus outbreaks and fears of instability.

The big picture: The March 5–8 visit is intended to reassure Christians in Iraq who were violently persecuted under the Islamic State. Francis also hopes to further ties with Shiite Muslims, AP notes.

"Neanderthal thinking": Biden slams states lifting mask mandates

States that are relaxing coronavirus restrictions are making "a big mistake," President Biden told reporters on Wednesday, adding: "The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking."

Driving the news: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Wednesday he will end all coronavirus restrictions via executive order, although some businesses are continuing to ask patrons to wear face masks. Mississippi is lifting its mask mandate for all counties Wednesday, per Gov. Tate Reeves (R).