In January, Justin Smith, the former CEO of Bloomberg Media, and Ben Smith, the former editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, announced that they are starting a media company that will finally cater to the “200 million people who are college educated, who read in English, but who no one is really treating like an audience.” Suddenly we are all implicated in their little project.
In their recent efforts to impress me and my community, they hired The Hill’s Steve Clemons as editor-at-large — love him — and Reuters editor Gina Chua as executive editor. Chua’s Twitter bio reads, “Exploring new forms of journalism and where the profession is heading.” It appears she is putting her money where her mouth is.
In the ongoing promotional campaign for their top-secret project, which rivals that of Lady Gaga’s failed Oscar run for House of Gucci, the two Smiths have now dropped another crumb of information regarding what’s to come for their 200-million strong stan army around the world. Specifically, in a recent virtual event hosted by the Harvard Business School Club of New York (fun), Ben Smith said the following: “We’ve chosen a brand that we’re going to be unveiling in a couple of months that is the same word in 25 or 35 different languages … It is very intentionally going to be able to live in Asia or Europe or the Middle East or America.”
The New York Times offered some guesses as to what that brand could be: “English words that are the same or similar in many other languages include taxi, tea, coffee, chai, sugar, pajama, radio and soup.”
Unfortunately there is already an international news show called The Soup, and it would be pretty hard to improve upon. Pajama, however, is still available. Did you read that piece on Pajama? That’s my impression of me in the group chat I’m in with all my college-educated friends.
As we await their official announcement, here are a few other international words for the Smiths to consider:
According to a blurry infographic in this Quora thread, this is how you say pineapple in most languages except English. There is a lot of talk in journalism about feeding your audience their “vegetables” in the form of serious news, but what about their fruits? Pineapples bring up images of tropical vacations and tiki cocktails — great for brand sentiment.
Audiences respond well to strong statements. In an era of information overload, a bold stance makes an immediate impression. NO!
Everyone knows this guy. Who better to lend his name to a visionary idea (news for English speakers) than Mr. Hope and Change himself.
I suspect that whatever form this project takes, it will be powered by the net. Why not lean into that? “Did you read the latest piece on Internet” Yes, I did.
Everyone loves their mom, mama, ma, or mamma. When it comes to establishing trust with readers, they will listen to Mommy — she’s always right.
It’s important to set expectations.