Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin: Changing the Face – and Format – of News
From the couch of their New York City apartment, former NBC News producers Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin conceived an idea: a daily email newsletter to keep their digitally savvy friends better informed of global news. Fast forward five years, theSkimm’s inaugural product – the “Daily Skimm” – has more than five million subscribers and continues to grow. Weisberg and Zakin discuss the evolution of the media industry, why being entrepreneurial is more important than being “an entrepreneur" and the value of producing balanced journalism in a dynamic political climate.
Weisberg, on developing a business model to empower readers: “We want to empower our audience to make sure that, okay, you might only have five minutes a day, but give us that five minutes…and I think that leads to feeling confident about so many more aspects about your life or…getting more involved in other topics. And that’s really driven a lot of our business model - the fact that our audience does look to us to tell them about these huge issues and distill [them], and have them feel empowered to go about their day.”
Zakin, on becoming a primary news source for millennials: “If you had asked us four years ago, ‘Is your dream to be the only news source for female millennials?’ No, that’s not our dream. We’ve thought of ourselves always as a gateway to other sources of information, but for many, we are their only news source, and I think the gravity of that has never felt more real since the [US presidential] election.”
Weisberg, on advice for starting a business: “No one knows how to [start their own business]. So don’t feel like there’s a wrong step. I think the best thing that we did is we knew how to ask questions. That was really how we were trained as journalists…I think the biggest mistake that I see people make who want to go into business is to feel like they need to know all of the answers.”