March 2, 2020

Insider Inc.: Loving the Reader

By Abigail Bailey, NYU SPS MS in Publishing: Digital & Print Media student

 “If you find something you think is interesting, that you’ve seen other people are interested in as well, find a smart way to build on it.”

Our group of NYU SPS MS in Publishing: Digital and Print Media students furiously scribbled this advice down as Graham Starr (pictured above, second from left), senior tech editor, began to explain the journey that led him to Insider Inc.

Just a little while earlier, we were eagerly waiting in the Insider Inc. lobby, watching numerous videos flash across two large screens, and admiring five Gold Creator Awards from YouTube, each highligting a different channel from the company that has surpassed one million subscribers. Once inside the conference room, we were greeted by five staff members, who were eager to share their perspectives on their hot and growing company. Editorial Assistant Grace DeGraff (pictured below, far right) launched into the unique history of the company, which calls itself the world’s largest digital business news site.

“You constantly have to evolve to make [the content] better, but that’s what makes it fun,” Irene Kim (pictured below, far left), associate video producer, told the group. This continuous push forward is exactly what helped Insider Inc. become the massive media powerhouse it is today. The company has changed drastically over the years: starting in 2007 as Silicon Alley Insider, and then shifting to Business Insider in 2008, Insider Inc. now has two different branches—Insider and Business Insider. Throughout all these changes, the desire to inform and inspire has remained at the core of the company’s mission. You can see this across its entire platform, which the panel dove into as the conversation turned toward the reader. 

Insider captures its unique voice and angle through “One, getting the reader the information as quickly and accurately as possible, but also keeping it focused on what the experience would be like for the reader,” explained Samantha Grindell (pictured above, center), a current lifestyle fellow who will become a junior reporter come March.  Grindell also is a graduate of the MS in Publishing: Digital and Print Media program, and helped to organize our visit. Insider does this through breaking down and reframing information into easily digestible bits for their audience. They don’t shy away from long headlines and subtitles that give away the story; they actually prefer them so that the reader can get the main ideas of the story from the outset. According to Grace DeGraff, the company tries to remain as reader-focused as possible, so that “you don’t have to be an expert in what’s going on in politics, but you can read our story and keep up and get looped in right away. You don’t have to know everything about tech, but if there’s a big story about Elon Musk, you can read it, understand it, and be able to talk about it with somebody.” One of their main goals, added Grindell, is “finding that cross between what you’re passionate about, and what the readers are passionate about,” a concept that originated with Global Editor-In-Chief, Nicholas Carlson.

When it was time for questions, the panelists were asked: “How competitive do you feel with many other reporting agencies capturing the same news?” They were also asked how they address that competition. The answer? Add value by finding more or better sources, get better analysis, and frame it in a unique way. Sometimes, it’s even as simple as finding a zippy headline to replace a boring one, or providing easier access to a story across multiple platforms. “One of our mottos is ‘we want to be where our audience is.’ We don’t want them to have to hunt us down and find us. So, if they’re on TikTok, well, now we’re on TikTok too,” said Senior Distribution Editor, Cassidy Hopkins (pictured above, second from right).

"You don’t have to be an expert in what’s going on in politics, but you can read our story and keep up and get looped in right away. "

Grace DeGraaf, Editorial Assistant, Insider Inc.

An editor from Insider Inc. answers student questions on a tour of the Insider Inc. offices.

It is abundantly clear that the largest strength of Insider Inc is their deep and intense passion for their readers. Every staff member routed back to some form of improving quality for the readers, and what that meant to them as journalists. A quote from their website regarding Insider sums up this idea rather nicely: “Insider celebrates people who live life as an adventure, with stories delivered on the go, wherever they are,”

However, I believe it’s much simpler than that: Insider Inc. celebrates people. That sense of celebration for their readers, the sheer joy and passion for their audience, will continue to resonate with readers across the world.   

To learn more about the NYU SPS MS in Publishing: Digital & Print Media, visit our page for program details, admissions deadlines, and more. 

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