Making sense? – “Fair Observer”

30. June 2011 § Leave a comment

Yesterday, I had the privilege to attend the Munich launch event of “Fair Observer”, an ambitious online journal claiming to “make sense of the world”. The team tries to fill a perceived niche between mainstream news media and rather academic journals. It comes online only, with several mobile apps to be released later during the year. Fair Observer’s approach is to “provide a plurality of perspectives” and a “360 degrees view on the world” – as opposed to the classic news media model that the project’s inventors call “ethnocentric, event-driven and lacks analysis”. Founders are Fabian Neuen, a young, former business consultant, and two more MBAs with Indian origins based out of London and Washington D.C.

They seem to be aware of the fact that revenue might be hard to come by: Currently, contributors – many of them academics – are not paid. The site is free, as the team doesn’t seem to believe in paid content online. Investors provided start-up capital and the team managed to sign up an impressive array of advisors from around the world (with a strange, but accidental penchant to former intelligence officers). They also managed to extract endorsement from big shots such as Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and former german chancellor Helmut Schmidt. While the full version of the site is gradually released, some content was publicly accessible this morning – a long piece on corruption around the world and an article on “the sadomasochism of Anglo-German relations”. The project definitely deserves support. However, it remains to be seen wether the perceived market niche does exist and/or is big enough to attract a sustainable amount of traffic to the site. Also, the team might lack some professional journalistic expertise, which can be a good or a bad thing. Two more launch events in Washington, D.C. (today) and London (next week) are about to follow.

ADDENDUM German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung covered the project in some depth today.

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