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On the QZ: Quartz Business News
by
Posted On October 4, 2012
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A business-oriented, electronic news site debuted on Sept. 24, 2012. Called Quartz, it is owned by Atlantic Media Company, which also publishes The Atlantic, National Journal, and Government Executive, and on the web, Atlantic Wire, Atlantic Cities, and Buzzfeed. From its inception, Quartz was designed for tablets and mobile phones, although it also works as a website. Quartz is built using WordPress for its platform and is replete with eye-catching graphics. It is free to the user, relying on its four sponsors (Boeing, Cadillac, Chevron, and Credit Suisse) to cover at least some of its costs. Not only do the sponsors get ads sprinkled throughout the site, they also underwrite sponsored content that looks like news stories, although these are clearly marked as being authored by the sponsors.

Quartz combines articles written specifically for the site along with links to articles published elsewhere, including The Associated Press, The Telegraph, South China Morning Post, India Times, The New York Times, TechCrunch, Venture Beat, Wired, and an eclectic group of other publications, including sister publication The Atlantic. The converse is not true, however. Major news search engines, such as Google News, are not linking to Quartz stories, at least not yet. Although Atlantic Media maintains several websites for news, there is little to no overlap in content among them.

The editor-in-chief, Kevin J. Delaney, comes to the project from the position of managing editor of wsj.com. He has assembled a little more than 20 well-qualified, seasoned journalists to write stories for Quartz. According to Delaney, the staff has “reported in 115 countries and speak 19 languages.” Headquarters are in New York City, but correspondents and staff reporters are located in London, Paris, Taiwan, Los Angles, and Washington, D.C. The publications to which Quartz links are likewise global, covering all major business hubs.

Delaney is quick to note that Quartz is built around “obsessions” rather than beats. At the top of the main page, the current list of obsessions is Energy shocks, Mobile web, China slowdown, Ideas, Technology, Lifestyle, Low interest rates, Euro crunch, The next crisis, Markets, US elections, Modern states, Digital money, Consumer class, and Startups. Some of these obsessions are more ephemeral than others. It’s also interesting that, although Quartz defines itself as news that will interest business people, not all of its stories are strictly about business. Photojournalism is a major component of the site.

News stories display immediately upon accessing Quartz. They are sorted chronologically, most recent first. To the left of the full stories is a list of headlines. Staff-written stories appear with full text. Stories not written by Quartz link out to the text on another website, taking you away from the Quartz site, although the external story opens in a new window, allowing for easy return to Quartz. This does not bother Quartz editors, who see this as in line with Quartz’s overall commitment to openness and transparency.

You can limit results to one of Quartz’s obsessions from the top of the screen. Alternatively, you can select one of the limit facets at the far left-hand side of the screen. These are Latest, Popular, Starred, and Search. To Star an article, think of it as making it a personal favorite, but you must be a registered member. Search opens an almost invisible search box at the top of the headlines list. Since the site is so recent, without a huge amount of legacy content, search terms frequently return zero hits.

Quartz offers a daily alerting service called Quartz Daily Brief that is delivered to your inbox every morning. Three geographic options—Europe, Middle East, and Africa; Asia; or the Americas—determine when morning is for the email delivery. This daily briefing requires free registration and compliance with its terms and conditions.

Clicking on the link for terms and conditions actually takes you to the About page. This extremely long page (if you were to print it, you’d need 49 sheets of paper) starts with a description of Quartz, a list of the reporters that includes a biography and photo for each, an ethics statement, a description of its latest obsessions, an advertisement and article by a sponsor, an explanation of Quartz’s privacy policy, and—three quarters of the way down the page—the actual terms and conditions. For information professionals, it’s important to notice that Quartz specifically says that its content is “provided solely for your personal, non-commercial use.”

How can information professionals best approach Quartz? On one hand, it’s an aggregator of business content. It combines its own content with external business stories. However, the aggregation is very limited and not likely to produce even close to comprehensive coverage of a topic. On the other hand, it provides a fresh voice and interesting analyses on its obsessions. Its emphasis on data visualization and stunning graphics is appealing, as is its concentration on delivering information to mobile devices.

The intent of Quartz is to reach high-end business users. If they are successful doing this, it will be essential for information professionals to pay attention so they are not considered as “out of the loop,” or old-fashioned in terms of information sources. As Quartz grows its content and becomes embedded in corporate workflows, it will gain in importance as an information source. But I’m not expecting to see it in bibliographic databases alongside its iconic sibling, The Atlantic. Quartz is part of the new, born-digital, business-information resources, something to which information professionals need to pay attention.


Marydee Ojala is the editor-in-chief of Online Searcher magazine, chairs WebSearch University, and is Program Development Director for Enterprise Search Summit.

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