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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

1 hour ago - Science

COVID time warp

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The start of the COVID-19 pandemic seems like a lifetime ago to some, and just yesterday to others. Scientists are beginning to unpack the way people processed the passage of time amidst the stress, uncertainty and isolation of the 1 year, 8 months and 21 days since WHO declared a pandemic.

Why it matters: The pandemic's global effects on how people experience time could provide new insights into the brain's ability to perceive and predict time — a fundamental feature of life.

Mitt Romney calls Ray Dalio's China investments a "sad moral lapse"

Sen. Mitt Romney walks to a Senate Republican caucus meeting at the Capitol on Oct. 7. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Thursday criticized billionaire Ray Dalio's investments in China, writing in a tweet that "his feigned ignorance of China's horrific abuses and rationalization of complicit investments there is a sad moral lapse."

Driving the news: Romney's comments come after Dalio's firm, Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world, raised $1.3 billion in November for a new private fund in China, Bloomberg reports.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: First known U.S. case of Omicron variant identified in California — America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron — CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers.
  2. Politics: Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come — Meta removes accounts linked to COVID disinformation effort by China.
  3. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine.
  4. World: Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people — Omicron variant detected in more countriesWHO advises people 60 or older to postpone travel due to Omicron
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.