Critics rip Jimmy Finkelstein media startup ‘The Messenger’

The Messenger, the yet-to-be-launched news site by media mogul Jimmy Finkelstein, is a money-making business led by old-school executives with “delusional” ambitions in an increasingly fierce business, according to industry insiders. There is a danger of becoming

Finkelstein, former co-owner of The Hollywood Reporter and The Hill, who has raised $50 million to fund the venture, said Finkelstein. new york times He plans to launch the site in May with at least 175 journalists in New York, Los Angeles and Washington.

The 74-year-old investor hopes the new site will appeal to a wider American audience, much like 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair have done in decades past, and will eventually sell about 550 He said he plans to hire 100 journalists. Los Angeles Times.

“Anytime a new website references an old magazine or TV show, you know they aren’t looking to tomorrow,” media critics deadpanned.

Jimmy Finklestein, pictured wife Pamela Gross, has raised $50 million to build a news site that employs 550 journalists.
Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Another media executive took a more flexible approach, calling Finkelstein’s project “interesting” and “positive” for the media business, which if successful could create new jobs and boost competition. I was.

“His integrity is beyond doubt,” said a source. “Jimmy wants to be important. He’s the guy who wants to call the president.”

Richard Beckman, a Condé Nast veteran and Finkelstein second executive who later served as president of The Hill, claims that The Messenger will generate more than $100 million in revenue next year.

“Revenue will be a combination of direct advertising, programmatic and sponsorship revenue across multiple platforms,” a company spokesperson said. “Given the very enthusiastic response from many of our partners, we have great confidence in reaching that number by the end of 2024.”

For context, the traffic numbers include Conde Nast, Vox Media, and the New York Post’s digital network, which have made the fledgling site one of the most read digital sites in the United States, each with about 83 million visitors. Beat. According to February comscore.

Richard Beckman
Finkelstein enlisted longtime business partner Richard Beckmann to help run The Messenger.
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A longtime media executive close to Finkelstein and Beckman told The Post that the goal of achieving it in a year is not only difficult, but “delusional.”

“That’s wishful thinking,” said the executive. “They are ghosts from the past. If they were a public company, I wouldn’t invest in them.”

Beckman is perhaps best known for his horrific “joke” when he tried to get two co-workers (a Vogue advertising director and a Vogue fashion director) to kiss after an advertising sales meeting in 1999. I’m here.

A source who has worked with Beckman, who has been nicknamed ‘Mad Dog’ for his fierce business style, tells The Post that the North London native has adopted a ‘football hooliganism’. rice field. The action would be “Don’t fly today”.

Dan Wakeford
Messenger has tapped Dan Wakeford, former editor-in-chief of People Magazine, to spearhead the new venture.
NBCU Photobank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Beckman ended up banging the heads of the executives, breaking one of their noses and forcing Conde to pay a seven-figure settlement. Beckman was forced to apologize and attend counseling.

“If they all just broke their noses and got out of this problem, they’d be lucky,” quipped one insider.

Beckman has made a number of “pie in the sky” projections of more than $100 million in annual growth at other smaller media properties, sources said, and its executives typically , sold his vision on cheesy “sizzle reels,” adding that it “costs a lot of money.” ” make.

(Beckman pitched The Messenger with a sizzle reel featuring Dire Straits’ ’80s hit “Money for Nothing,” The Times reported).

Jonathan Farkus and Jimmy Finkelstein attend a holiday party hosted by George Farias, Anne & Jay McInerney at The Doubles Club in New York City on December 13, 2018.  (Photo by Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Jonathan Farkus (left) and Jimmy Finkelstein (right) sell his political website The Hill to Nexstar for $130 million in 2021.
Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

“Richard has had a very successful career and his reputation in the industry has been earned by bringing in billions of dollars in revenue,” Finkelstein said in a statement to the Post.

“He had great success with Condé Nast and equally successful when he worked with me on Prometheus and The Hill. That’s why he’s on The Messenger now.”

Finkelstein also tapped digital traffic guru Neetzan Zimmerman, who worked at Gawker Media before working at The Hill. In between these gigs, Zimmerman took command of his Whisper social media app and was the target of a series of articles for The Guardian. He claimed the app improperly tracked the user’s location.

Zimmerman called the report a lie, and the Guardian published an explanation and correction to the report, but Zimmerman resigned and left the company. An internal investigation by Whisper found no wrongdoing.

Max Azria and Richard Beckman during Las Vegas fashion and music extravaganza RISING STYLE at The Joint in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Beckman (right) and Max Azaria (left) said they expect The Messenger to bring in more than $100 million in revenue next year.
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Meanwhile, The Messenger, which aims to cover topics ranging from news and politics to entertainment and sports with an unbiased lens, is struggling to attract top talent, according to insiders.

Among those who have turned down offers are Janice Min, whom she hired to revamp The Hollywood Reporter in 2009, former Hearst editor Joanna Coles, and former Daily Beast top editor Jon Avron. a source told The Post.

Finkelstein appointed former People editor-in-chief Dan Wakeford, who left the magazine last year amid a wide-ranging restructuring, as Messenger’s top editor. Other hires include Politico’s longtime senior editor Marty Kady and her former Entertainment Weekly editor-in-chief Mary Margaret.

Job seekers said Finkelstein had a hefty six-figure salary hanging, but his plans appeared “vague”, and there were no details about how the outfit would be structured or where reporters would work. Even the details of are scarcely given.

People Magazine Editor-in-Chief Dan Wakeford (L) and Jennifer Aniston attend PEOPLE's Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards Gala at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA on January 19, 2020.  (Photo: John Shearer/Getty Images for PEOPLE)
Wakeford, pictured here with Jennifer Aniston, has been busy hiring a bunch of journalists ahead of Messenger’s May launch.
Getty Images for PEOPLE

A handful of employees who have already signed on now work at WeWork in Midtown Manhattan, and Finkelstein runs his business from his home in West Palm Beach, Florida. a source said.

A media executive who has worked with Finkelstein called the CEO “savvy,” but added that $50 million is just a fraction of the budget needed to launch a top-tier media property. .

“If Jimmy were to buy a house, he would negotiate the curtains to bring the price down, but this is not an easy moment for newcomers.

According to sources close to Finkelstein, Finkelstein currently has no plans to raise more money for the project.

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