Non-profit start-up FactorDaily focuses on the why of journalism

By Peter Bale


New Zealand and the U.K.


Pankaj Mishra founded a non-profit news site in India, FactorDaily, having launched it initially with venture capital funding and an expectation it could build a new model.

That model has come full circle, and Pankaj, formerly an editor at TechCrunch and the Economic Times, now thinks we need to think of every story as a product.

Each story needs its own attributes, assets, and potential to morph into something else — be it a script for a movie, a documentary, or a piece of graphical storytelling.

FactorDaily embraces the "why of journalism."
FactorDaily embraces the "why of journalism."

“An individual story may break out into multiple areas,” Pankaj said in a Zoom call from Bangaluru. “We signed up a producer to one story and it is going to become a movie. So when we were doing that contract with this production company, it made me think about how can I look at a story as IP [Intellectual Property]. How can I break it down? So that key learning is that every story is the product for us. It can be a book, it can be a song, it can be a movie, it can be anything. It can be a street play. Two of our stories are now on the assembly line.”

The point Pankaj is pushing, I think, is to get to the essence of what is being said in the journalism, not just what will click now.

He goes further in a rather didactic or poetic way: “The ‘why of journalism’ is at the core of every pursuit here, including looking at stories as products. These potential avenues would empower us to look beyond the ad, subscription, and branded content-supported business models.”

Of course, this isn’t a completely new idea. But often the rewards from the story have either travelled with the reporter or someone else and not accrued to the publisher in any way. That requires a delicate balance of interest, investment, and, ultimately, ownership.

“Not every story is going to go that way, but one in a dozen might. That’s the venture capital approach. What I learned when I became venture-funded is they would put money in a range of e-commerce start-ups, for example, because they didn’t know which one was going to make it. But one will pay for everyone else if it works. So the VC mindset helps here, because you make those bets, basically at the story level. It’s a really interesting approach.”

I intend to develop this conversation with Pankaj further in later newsletters.

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About Peter Bale

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