Advancing the Profession and the Professional

PRSA’s Inside the Newsroom Reveals What Makes Quartz a Modern News Outlet

by Taylor Szabo, FleishmanHillard

Taylor SzaboMembers of FleishmanHillard’s San Francisco office attended PRSA Silicon Valley’s latest Inside the Newsroom series, featuring digital media outlet, Quartz. Held at the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park and emceed by FleishmanHillard SF’s very own Vanessa Yanez, Quartz publisher Jay Lauf, editor in chief Kevin Delaney and senior editor Zach Seward sat down with Facebook’s Director of Technology Communications, Jonny Thaw, to discuss how the Atlantic Media publication resides outside the traditional journalistic mindset.


Modern Journalism

One aspect of Quartz’s style that differs from traditional journalism is their lack of “headline-ese,” a term coined by Quartz’s Zach Seward that describes traditional journalists’ use of unclear and wordy headlines. Instead, Quartz writes headlines in a similar fashion to effective tweets—short, sweet and concise.

Secondly, although Quartz welcomes all traffic to their site, they are not focused on driving clicks, but instead on metrics around shared articles via social channels.  This is the new age way content is circulated amongst readers.  Also, Quartz tends to stray from writing standard 750-word articles, but instead aims to publish tight 400-500 word pieces or more detailed articles that surpass 1200 words.  These differentiators have led to its over five million unique visitors per month (UVM), in the outlets short year of existence.    

Lastly, instead of specific beats, reporters at Quartz list their current “obsessions,” topic areas they are currently obsessed with. Seward noted that finding a reporter’s current obsession is the best way to know what they cover.

Key Takeaways

As a new public relations professional, this event was a priceless view into the new media landscape. It offered useful insights on how reporters are looking at content sharing and industry trends. Upon talking to my fellow event attendees, it seems everyone was able to take away something valuable. I look forward to putting these insights to work!


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