I grew up in an NBC household. Some of my earliest TV memories were sitting in the living room at 6pm with my parents and watching the nightly news with David Brinkley, John Chancellor, and later Tom Brokaw. I didn’t always understand what was going on in the world, but it was my half hour nightly glimpse into life beyond Pacific Palisades, California, where I grew up. Old habits die hard when it comes to news network allegiances and I continued to turn to the peacock for news into my teen years and through college.
In November of 2000, that all changed. Although politics have never interested me in the least bit, the Bush/Gore election and the epic amount of controversy that resulted from it turned the news world upside down. In my mind, that was the beginning of the 24/7 news cycle, at least in the United States. I found myself instantly wanting more than the standard 30 minutes of national news NBC gave me every night. During this frantic period, many people turned to cable news for their 24/7 news fix, and that’s when I found MSNBC.
Suddenly, whenever I turned on my TV, there was election coverage available. Who was this Ashleigh Banfield girl? I didn’t know, but I liked her. Where did all of these reporters suddenly come from? And whoa, what’s this? A double-length version of the Nightly News anchored by Brian Williams? I’m in!
Fast-forward several months later when everyone thought the 24/7 news cycle might have peaked, and then came September 11th, 2001 — the most shocking event that anyone alive today has ever witnessed and probably ever will. News activity was completely off the charts again. And who was right there with the best 24/7 coverage again? MSNBC. For the next several years, as the incident slowly turned into the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, I found myself still turning to the Micro-Peacock — both online and off — for my most important news consumption. It is still the source from which most of my mainstream news comes from.
It is therefore with great pride, that I can announce the company I co-founded two years ago, Newsvine, has just been acquired by msnbc.com.
Wow, I’ve been waiting a few months to say that. It feels great to finally make the news public.
Msnbc.com is one of the most decorated, highly trafficked news sites on the web, and is ranked as one of the top news site overall, according to virtually every measurement service. More than one billion page views a month strong, and run by some of the smartest people in the industry, msnbc.com represents a lot of what online news ought to be about: immersive interactive news experiences, award-winning journalism, stunning photography, thoughtful UI, and scalability a startup like Newsvine could never dream of achieving on its own. It is a separate company from the TV side of NBC News and MSNBC the cable channel, but all the organizations work together to complement each other online and off.
Msnbc.com, the news site, has always been a daily visit for me. They were the first to have a professionally typeset cover story when they launched their legendary Roger Black design back in the 1990s. They’ve also produced some of the best interactive news experiences like The Darkest Day (9/11) and Rising from Ruin (Hurricane Katrina). Throw in the stunning photo galleries, a wealth of news video, and an impressive army of award-winning print journalists and it’s easy to see what makes the site so special.
So why would an independent, cost-efficient, growing startup like Newsvine which has taken very little venture capital want to join a huge organization like msnbc.com? The answer comes down to global impact. Our goal at Newsvine has always been to spread the ethos of participatory news as far and wide as possible, and what more dramatic way can that be accomplished than with a partner who reaches 85 million computers a month and has an offline presence on nearly every television set in the country?
We never set out to prove that grassroots media was better than mainstream media or vice-versa. The theory, in fact, has been quite the opposite: that given the right environment, an ecosystem where big and little media make each other stronger can be developed. This has been proven out on the Newsvine site itself since we launched about a year and a half ago, and it’s now going to go prime time. We’re so excited.
One the most important aspects of this deal for both organizations was that Newsvine will continue to run independently, from a brand and operational perspective. They are two different sites with two entirely different brand expectations. That said, we’re thrilled to be working with a parent who resides right across Lake Washington from us, a mere 20 minutes away. Of all the companies who’ve come knocking since launch, never has a relationship of such geographical advantage matched this one. It’s a win for the Newsvine community, a win for msnbc.com, a win for our investors at Second Avenue, and a win for the Seattle region as well.
Wish us luck as we continue our mission of evolving online news.