Mike reboots himself with more pop culture coverage and less politics
Mike, an online magazine known for a serious mix of political news and opinion essays aimed at millennial readers on the left, launched the new form as a more diverse publication with a dash of 1970s Rolling Stone. Have rebooted myself under ownership.
“We’re a place where you can read reviews of Lil Nas X’s new album and also read a column about feelings of existence around climate change,” Mike’s editor-in-chief, Shanté Cosme, said in an interview. .
Bustle Digital Group, the media company that revived Gawker this year, introduced Revamped Mic on Wednesday, offering readers a long-scroll site full of up-and-coming stories about culture, identity, influence, and life, as well as Photo with Portrait and Illustration. Go with a casual-feeling design that includes a mix of typefaces.
The makeover was led by Ms. Cosme and Joshua Topolsky, a chief content officer at Bustle Digital Group, and was led by a team of seven editors and 13 writers, many of whom were recently hired.
Ms Cosme, 36, and Mr Topolsky, 43, said they struck the new editorial identity after lengthy discussions about what worked and what didn’t for the old mic. The two concluded that it was time to make a clear break with the publication’s past.
“The ‘millennial political news website’ is a very old concept for many different reasons,” said Mr. Topolsky. He said the target audience for the new mic was “young, diverse, extremely online, very knowledgeable.”
Mike’s main story, on Wednesday, was a profile of actor and producer Issa Rae by former New York Times journalist Jamal Jordan. The accompanying photo shoot, by Brooklyn photographer Kajal, was produced by Ms. Cosme.
Also, there was a first-person essay by Kianna Fitzgerald, a music journalist and DJ, describing how the Solange album “A Seat at the Table” had helped her through her mental health crisis; An essay on rising home sales in Florida as the state is affected by the effects of climate change; Skeptical reviews of Jon Stewart’s new show for AppleTV+; and an exploration of classism among black users of Twitter.
Ms Cosme, who is half Puerto Rican, said it was important for her to weave coverage of her race and identity seamlessly into the Mike publication.
“I’m one of the few Latina women to run a newsroom,” she said. “It was really important to me that we got the identification coverage right, and that the coverage of our race was not just down to one vertical.
“When Mike was in his heyday,” she continued, “it really led the charge in telling those stories, but it also made a lot of mistakes that the media makes when covering races. Sometimes it’s outrage. The slant towards clicks or even race batting. I would say the one big difference is that our detection coverage is now a lot more balanced and subtle.
Mike was started in 2011 by Chris Alchek and Jake Horowitz under the name Policymic. In 2015, it landed in a video interview with President Barack Obama and rose to a $100 million valuation. In 2018, Mike won awards from the American Society of Magazine Editors and the Radio Television Digital News Association for an article and video on the opioid epidemic, produced with Time magazine.
But business was poor, partly due to the publication’s reliance on fickle Facebook traffic. In November 2018, Mike laid off 70 people on its staff of more than 100 and was acquired by Bustle Digital Group for reportedly $5 million.
Mike has been humming quietly ever since. A Bustle Digital Group spokesperson said it’s still attracting readers, with a monthly average of 7.5 million unique visitors this year.
Ms. Cosme arrived in 2019 and became Mike’s top editor in January. Prior to joining the publication, he worked for seven years as executive editor at the youth media company Complex Networks. Within Bustle Digital Group, the publication she leads is seen as the equivalent of the more mischievous Gawker, which the company relaunched in July.
“We are coming off the launch of Gawker, which is still very eccentric and can still be a lot of fun, and I think Mike is almost on the polar opposite in many ways,” said Mr. Topolsky. “It’s of great interest how we can be kind to the audience and the stories and their lives.”
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