At PSFK Conference NYC, I had the opportunity to sit down with Edward Felsenthal, Executive Editor of The Daily Beast, to discuss his new online publication and the changes he’s seeing in the rapidly evolving world of publishing. The Daily Beast, launched in October of 2008, is a curated online news site created by Tina Brown, the former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. Felsenthal, who served as Deputy Managing Editor of the Wall Street Journal prior to taking the helm at The Daily Beast, shared his insights on launching a new brand in the ever-expanding digital news space and making the transition from print to online publishing. He explained how the web allowed for more experimentation and variation in content – and that, because it wasn’t a zero-sum game, his publication wasn’t taking away any attention from readers of other news sites – but just adding to the conversation. Felsenthal pointed out how The Daily Beast has differentiated itself from its competitors with its addictive news aggregator, the “Cheat Sheet“, and its unique look and feel.
Felsenthal also discussed The Daily Beast’s focus on providing a balance of both aggregated and original content, to both steer its readers towards important news and ideas beyond their publication while producing compelling journalism of its own. Overall, he seemed optimistic about the future of publishing and viewed the changing of guard as having little negative influence on the way publications get and share their news. And while he acknowledged the ‘death of newspapers’ as something real and happening, he was confident that people would always need sources for reliable information, and online news sites would always be there to provide it. Whether it be ad-supported or imbued with sponsored content, publications will always have a loyal audience, so long as they can maintain the quality and veritability they promise.