MEDIA: Getting the scoop on Powerful Media’s - Kurt Andersen and the gang at Powerful Media have gathered together some marquee journalist names for their new media-centric Web site. Claire Atkinson looks at what they’re cooking

Powerful Media, the independent start-up formed by Kurt Andersen, Deanna Brown and Michael Hirschorn, has been performing a delicate balancing act with the press over the past few weeks.

Powerful Media, the independent start-up formed by Kurt Andersen, Deanna Brown and Michael Hirschorn, has been performing a delicate balancing act with the press over the past few weeks.

Powerful Media, the independent start-up formed by Kurt Andersen,

Deanna Brown and Michael Hirschorn, has been performing a delicate

balancing act with the press over the past few weeks.

The trio has attracted a lot of unwanted attention with its new Web site

for the entertainment in-dustry. Newsweek recently wrote about, but editor-in-chief Hirschorn says his company is trying to

avoid the usual pre-launch hype. Instead, Powerful Media is

concentrating on reaching potential paying subscribers through

interviews with a selection of handpicked trade magazines.

Public relations professionals are just one potential audience of the

site. has already attracted dollars 5 million in funding from

investors (including Flatiron Partners) and has caught the imaginations

of the brightest brains from the biggest books.

Even before the early May launch, Powerful Media has lured staff from

Variety, Rolling Stone and Advertising Age. These journalists will work

alongside newspaper reporters from The Wall Street Journal and USA


The idea for the site came from Andersen, who launched the satirical

magazine Spy, was editor-in-chief of New York magazine and last year

published a novel. Andersen says he chatted to friend James Cramer,

co-founder of, about providing something that catered to

media enthusiasts in the same way finance and sports sites do for those


Hirschorn, a former editor-in-chief at Spin magazine, had a similar

idea, and the two, who had previously worked together at New York,

decided to plot their professional destiny in cyberspace.

It is a bold move, considering that the Web does not lack for media


Powerful Media is located in a pitiful district on Manhattan’s West


The building on 11th Avenue may be surrounded by urban degradation but

the elevators carry a chic crowd to dot-coms on three floors.

shares the building with, the content site of

advertising guru Jay Chiat, and Martha Stewart’s Web operations. On the

13th floor,’s reporting team (the site intends to hire about

50) taps away on fruit-colored iMacs with each position separated by

steel angle-poise lamps.

At the far end of the room, next to the only window, Andersen and

Hirschorn unveil their work in progress. The opening page offers a lead

story of the day and carries six options down the left-hand side: TV,

film, media, music, books and digital news. These allow people to dig

deeper into their respective industries while gaining a perspective on

what’s happening in the communications field at large.

For those interested in the media industry, will carry

statistics revealing the number of ad pages carried by individual titles

plus the latest circulation figures. The site also carries a Cappell’s

circulation report and a TV news column, penned by Andrew Tyndall, which

discusses how many minutes individual anchors and their subjects receive

on the nightly newscasts.

There is a section that details the latest mergers and acquisitions

activity, also enabling readers to keep up with so-called ’co-opetition’

agreements (companies that compete but are also involved in


A segment called Daily Digest will act as a meta search engine,

providing links to the main trade magazines’ Web sites as well as

compressing news stories carried by industry fax and newsletters.

There won’t be any executive profiles as such but Andersen says if PR

pros want to offer a particular CEO viewpoint, there will be a Q&A

feature. won’t be all homework either. Andersen and Hirschorn have

plans to keep subscribers entertained with sections like Mogul

Astrology, featuring the professional prospects of top industry figures

on their birthdays, and, a gossipy feature with juicy

bits of information on each industry.

Pros are encouraged to send contributions to another segment, the Party

Pictures page, though will have a dedicated photographer

combing industry events each night. Pros should also be thinking of how

they’d pitch to be part of a monthly Power Index, which will rank the

top people in everything from PR to music. ’PR pros need to send us

everything,’ says Andersen. ’There are a lot of ways they can partner

with us.’

The site will also carry a calendar of events such as book, film and

record release dates, though Andersen is not planning reviews. ’We will

have links to these companies’ sites. This should be the portal, nothing

should be absent,’ he says.

Andersen says graphics will be limited - it is mainly a text-based

service - but as things develop there may be some use of streaming video

and audio to show things like the latest Budweiser commercial or a hot

new CD.

These past few weeks, the reporters have been penning

features to feed the beast once it launches. Drew Kerr, founder of PR

agency Four Corners, which represents magazines and dot-com clients, is

encouraged by what he’s heard and would consider breaking news with the

site. But first he wants to see for himself what it’s all about, he

adds. launches in May, but Kerr makes the point that it will get

his subscription money only ’if they are quicker, faster and better than

anyone else.’ The price of a monthly subscription is dollars 19.95, with

an initial offer of dollars 12. Kerr, for one, says he is yet to be

convinced of the need to spend the money.

Andersen is coy about predicting how many people are likely to visit the

site on launch. But he admits that he and his colleagues are hoping for

a modest 30,000 after the first year and 100,000 after year four.

Chris Taylor, director of public relations at Bloomberg, says her firm

has already proven that you can get people to pay for information if

it’s unique. ’I am very much their target audience as I represent

magazines, radio, TV and newspapers.’ While Taylor is ready to sign on

the dotted line, she adds: ’I won’t be dropping any trade magazines.

They will always be my first read.’

While Andersen is reluctant to discuss the post-launch second phase, he

says the site intends to reach out to international audiences with

coverage of what’s happening in the entertainment business scene in

London and Sydney at a later date.

While many Web entrepreneurs include exit strategies in their business

plans, Andersen says that’s not part of his thinking: ’We want it to be

profitable. Anyone who talks about an exit strategy is not talking about

profit.’ He says that the most likely scenario for is to be

acquired, either partially or in full. ’But who knows?’ he adds.

For now he’s concentrating on the Web product and looking very seriously

at the prospect of a print weekly and a TV show.



New York

601 West 26th Street

13th floor

New York, NY 10001

Tel: (212) 937 0100, Fax: (212) 937 0101

Los Angeles

6100 Wilshire Boulevard

Suite 1250

Los Angeles, CA 90048

Tel: (323) 634 8560, Fax: (323) 930 0606,

E-mail: firstinitiallastname@


Co-chairman: Kurt Andersen

Co-chairman and editor-in-chief: Michael Hirschorn

President and CEO: Deanna Brown

Editor-at-large: Michael Cieply (Los Angeles)

TV editor: Kyle Pope

Music editor: Craig Marks

Books editor: Sara Nelson

Media editor: Lorne Manly

Film editor: Chris Petrikin

Business editor: Richard Siklos.

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