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Media Meltdowns

Quiz! Which New Media Company With An Innovative Solution For Fixing The News Industry Said This?

Three men in suits smiling as the man in the centre points to an article in a newspaper, which is spread out on the desk before them, circa 1945. Also on the desk are a telephone, an ashtray, and a small pile of books. (Photo by Archive Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Archive Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

There sure are plenty of new media companies out there, many of which are raking in millions of dollars in investments on the unique promises they make of and to their various distinct audiences. “We have entered a frenzied phase of media innovation,” a finance guy recently told the Financial Times, “both from inside established businesses and start-ups.” You really do hear it more and more.

Most of these new companies have names. We’ve got Puck, Grid, Punchbowl, Axios, Airmail. We’ve got whatever former New York Times media columnist Ben Smith is starting with former Bloomberg guy Justin Smith (no relation, biologically anyway). Now, it is true that these companies are all founded by the same people who have been marinating atop existing media companies for the past couple decades: Puck was spawned by former Vanity Fair boss and current venture capital bro Jon Kelly; Grid is the brainchild of tenured media exec Mark Bauman and former Vox Media exec Laura McGann; Punchbowl was started by two of Politico‘s most Politico-y minds; Axios was started by two of Politico‘s other most Politico-y minds; and Airmail came from former Vanity Fair guy and polarizing restauranteur Graydon Carter. But!

These new ventures all definitely have clear and exciting new visions for the trustworthy content and interesting perspectives they will deliver to underserved—nay, ignored—slices of news consumers. These media companies are primarily concerned not with getting tens of millions in investment in order to launch a glorified merch shop or being a vanity project for has-beens, but with providing the kind of straightforward news coverage that’s sadly missing in today’s polarized world, and for which millions of people are positively crying out and furiously waving fistfuls of $20 bills.

Because they are serious about building successful long-term ventures, they have each succeeded in identifying their own lanes in a crowded media landscape, which is why it’s highly unlikely that anyone would ever get them mixed up. But, because it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest media happenings, here’s a little quiz to test your knowledge about the new companies that will be turning media as we know it on its head. Think: Big! Think: Bold! Think: Strongly implying many people pay for your product when in fact most of your revenue comes from advertising! That’s the type of innovation you can expect from these thrilling new upstarts. The individual innovations will of course all be different.

The following quotes or statements have all been said by one of the founders of the media companies, or taken from the companies’ websites and social media pages. Just match the quote or statement with the company. I’ve also made up a few of these, just to keep you on your toes; if you think a statement is fake, choose “none of the above.” The answer key is at the bottom. Good luck!

1.

Our job is not to incrementally cover the news. We think that lots of places do that well. We’re watching the news and thinking, “OK, how can we freeze-frame and help people see a fuller picture.”

A. Airmail
B. Puck
C. Punchbowl
D. Grid
E. None of the above

2.

We supply you with articles on subjects both foreign and domestic—ranging from politics and the environment to art and literature, style and fashion, and high-end crime and beyond—by some of the world’s finest journalists. For the most part, these are stories you will not find anywhere else.

A. Smith and Smith
B. Airmail
C. Puck
D. Grid
E. None of the above

3.

The news industry is facing a crisis in consumer trust and confidence due to the distorting influence of social media and rising levels of polarization and parochialism. My plan is to launch a premium news business that serves unbiased journalism to a global audience and provides a high-quality platform for the best journalists in the world.

A. Airmail
B. Axios
C. Smith and Smith
D. Puck
E. None of the above

4.

We’re proudly built around generationally talented journalists, with unique access to the story behind the story, the plot that only the real insiders know. We aim to cover it all with sophistication, humility, clarity, wit, and just a little bit of mirth.

A. Airmail
B. Puck
C. Grid
D. Punchbowl
E. None of the above

5.

We see the news industry changing and we know what people want: News without the noise, wit without the snark, analysis without the opinion. For people who care about what’s happening in the world, our journalists bring you the story inside the story.

A. Airmail
B. Puck
C. Grid
D. Punchbowl
E. None of the above

6.

The inside story at the nexus of power, money, and ego.

A. Puck
B. Smith and Smith
C. Axios
D. Airmail
E. None of the above

7.

Our credo is our praxis. We cover the intersection of power and people.

A. Puck
B. Smith and Smith
C. Axios
D. Airmail
E. None of the above

8.

Our credo is Power, People, Politics.

A. Puck
B. Axios
C. Punchbowl
D. Grid
E. None of the above

9.

There are 200 million people who are college educated, who read in English, but who no one is really treating like an audience, but who talk to each other and talk to us. That’s who we see as our audience.

A. Smith and Smith
B. Punchbowl
C. Grid
D. Puck
E. None of the above

10.

We sensed that there was an audience of readers who were both tired of overly earnest news publications and found the ceaseless churn of the daily news cycle predictable, unnerving, and, quite frankly, unmanageable.

A. Smith and Smith
B. Axios
C. Airmail
D. Puck
E. None of the above

11.

We are doing serious things, but trying to do it in a voice that digital native people are used to but without falling into the crap trap of dumbing down the content. Our audience will be everyone who truly cares about serious news on a daily basis.

A. Grid
B. Axios
C. Puck
D. Punchbowl
E. None of the above

12.

We’re writing for anyone who wants or needs greater clarity on the most important stories of the day, and we think there are millions of people out there who fit that description.

A. Puck
B. Axios
C. Grid
B. Smith and Smith
E. None of the above

13.

News and culture at a civilized pace.

A. Airmail
B. Axios
C. Smith and Smith
D. Puck
E. None of the above

14.

Reporting and analysis on how world events, persistent challenges and mega-trends connect.

A. Axios
B. Punchbowl
C. Grid
D. Smith and Smith
E. None of the above

15.

Focused on the overlapping power corridors of our culture—the nexus of Wall Street, Washington, Silicon Valley, and Hollywood; that elevated world filled with moguls, strivers, insurgents, behind-the-scenes players, and ubiquitous C.E.O.s., alike.

A. Puck
B. Smith and Smith
C. Grid
D. Airmail
E. None of the above

16.

We’re dialed in on the intersection of the hallways where power moves. From Silicon Valley to Congress, our work speaks to the people who speak to us. There are millions of people out there looking for news they can use. We will be the go-to global news source they trust.

A. Puck
B. Smith and Smith
C. Grid
D. Airmail
E. None of the above

17.

We can give you a story that shows you what you need to know from different angles and prioritizes what really matters, not necessarily what’s new or what just happened.

A. Axios
B. Puck
C. Smith and Smith
D. Grid
E. None of the above

18.

We are focusing our minds and manpower on a much bigger problem faced by all consumers: the erosion of truth, trust, safety and sanity in news.

A. Smith and Smith
B. Axios
C. Grid
D. Axios
E. None of the above

19.

I really do think we are able to connect dots and also forecast for people what’s happening in the Capitol and the White House, in a way that just general assignment news organizations don’t do, they almost cover the Capitol like if it’s a foreign bureau. They have a couple of folks that are there, they are covering the big stories of the day. We are going a lot deeper.

A. Puck
B. Axios
C. Punchbowl
D. Grid
E. None of the above

20.

There’s an opportunity to reach a new audience to deliver stories in new ways, and to also align ourselves with great journalists in a way that can be hard for legacy institutions.

A. Airmail
B. Smith and Smith
D. Grid
C. Puck
E. None of the above

21.

Our readers are global in their outlook. Because the staff is made up of Spy and Vanity Fair vets plus a great mix of smart young tyros, […] is, we believe, the most sophisticated combination of old school rigor and new school smarts out there.

A. Puck
B. Punchbowl
C. Airmail
D. Smith and Smith
E. None of the above

22.

Our readers are international and no-nonsense. They want clear but sophisticated reporting—with style. We bring balance and sanity they want to an increasingly polarized news landscape.

A. Punchbowl
B. Puck
C. Axios
D. Smith and Smith
E. None of the above

23.

Smart, efficient news worthy of your time, attention, and trust.

A. Punchbowl
B. Puck
C. Axios
D. Smith and Smith
E. None of the above

24.

Begins where the news ends.

A. Punchbowl
B. Puck
C. Axios
D. Smith and Smith
E. None of the above

Answer key:

1. D, 2. B, 3. C, 4. B, 5. E, 6. A, 7. E, 8. C, 9. A, 10. C, 11. B, 12. C, 13. A, 14. C, 15. A, 16. E, 17. D, 18. D, 19. C, 20. B, 21. C, 22. E, 23. C, 24. B