Dow Today – Business News for Dec. 14, 2021
Janice Min, a media executive in Los Angeles, is joining forces with Richard Rushfield, a show-business columnist, to start a new media business that will be spun off from his popular subscription newsletter, The Ankler.
Ms. Min, who transformed The Hollywood Reporter from a struggling trade publication into a successful, large-format glossy, will become the co-owner, chief executive and editor in chief of the newly formed Ankler Media. Mr. Rushfield, the founder of The Ankler, which bills itself as “the newsletter Hollywood loves to hate and hates to love,” will be the company’s editorial director and chief columnist.
“One of the things that really sold me on doing this with Richard is he gave me visibility into the subscriber list, and it’s insane,” Ms. Min said in an interview. “It’s a Who’s Who of power in the entertainment community, and from that base I feel like there is so much potential to exercise that level of influence.”
Mr. Rushfield wrote for BuzzFeed, The Los Angeles Times and Gawker before going solo with a newsletter in 2017, a move he made because he felt there was room for coverage that was “sharper-elbowed, more irreverent and more fun than what was out there,” he said.
The Ankler started as something he wrote to amuse his friends. Eventually, he moved it to the digital newsletter platform Substack, and he now charges $10 a month for a subscription. According to Substack’s public leaderboard, which ranks newsletters by revenue, it is in the platform’s top three business publications.
“So have you met Americans lately or the entertainment consumers of the world?” he wrote in Monday’s edition, on the disappointing box-office results for Steven Spielberg’s big-budget adaptation of “West Side Story.”
“It may shock you to learn that they aren’t versed in the history of midcentury American musical theater,” he continued. “The mass culture as it stands can barely remember who Katy Perry was and won’t take kindly to anyone pointing out to them that entertainment existed in a time before that.”
Ms. Min said she first saw The Ankler’s potential for expansion after reading a post by Mr. Rushfield on the lack of diversity in the executive ranks at film studios, which included screenshots of “About Us” pages that showed mostly white leadership teams.
Over the last 18 months, Ms. Min and Mr. Rushfield discussed ways to expand the newsletter, including with other media companies, before deciding to stick with Substack. They said they planned to keep The Ankler as the flagship and would introduce additional newsletters, as well as podcasts and events, starting in January.
They will also bring on new hires, with the first being Tatiana Siegel, the executive film editor of The Hollywood Reporter, who will join in January to report on the worlds of Hollywood and entertainment.
Ms. Min and Mr. Rushfield said the company would be part of a three-month program run by Y Combinator, a start-up incubator known for its early investments in Airbnb and Reddit. The program gives company founders seed money and business guidance.
A focus of Ankler Media’s coverage will be the clashes between the tech executives now making big decisions in Hollywood and the ones who have been around since moviegoers waited in line to buy tickets.
“That push-pull tension between the people who eat McCarthy Salads at the Polo Lounge with the Silicon Valley algorithm people — that’s a real tension that’s going to drive the next 10, 20, 30 years here,” Ms. Min said.