news deeply
Credit: Screenshot from News Deeply.

Lara Setrakian left television news four years ago on the observation that there are stories getting "lost in the news cycle", that are not covered enough, and the people who want to keep up with them are not served by the media.

To create a home for these "orphan stories," she used her own savings to put together a team and start building News Deeply, a new media company that would cover these stories in depth and within the appropriate context.

Since then, the award-winning News Deeply has launched single subject platforms including Syria Deeply, Refugees Deeply, Water Deeply and Arctic Deeply, and plans to expand both the topics and the geopolitical areas it covers, Setrakian told at the GEN Summit in Vienna on 17 June.

"We really streamlined the technology and the design by unifying the back end of all of our Deeply topics," she explained.

"So we have a single system, all of the sites live on that system, and we can pop up a new site practically instantly. It all depends on how long we want to spend on pre-loaded content."

The fastest News Deeply has ever launched a new site has been in 10 days, but if it came down purely to the technology available rather than producing stories for the site in advance, a new launch could happen within an hour.

In fact, creating topic-specific sites for other publishers has been a key revenue stream for News Deeply.

We look at stories that have a high need for information and a high opportunity for impact, in other words, they're critical issuesLara Setrakian, News Deeply

"Since the start, we have had a very thriving business in building other people's micro-sites. We've had people come to us asking to use our technology but also our methodology to build quality in-depth content experiences, and that's kept us going since day one.

"Aside from that, we developed to earn revenue around each one of these topics, so sponsorship, live events, specialised reports, all around the issues we cover.

"We take the concept of this in-depth material and we turn it into products that are valuable in the information market."

News Deeply is currently looking at potentially setting up new sites to cover other conflict zones and developing nations, as well as environmental issues such as deforestation or recycling, and medical and public health issues.

"We look at stories that have a high need for information and a high opportunity for impact, in other words, they're critical issues. We call them species level issues. They're a matter of life and death, they have a time factor to them.

"We look at all kinds of existing platforms to see: is this an issue that's well served by the mainstream press? Is it well served by the independent press? Does it really need its own home and are we the right ones to build it? And if we determine all those things work and we also see a sustainable support base... then we go for it."

To make sure it zooms in on the right issues within a subject area, News Deeply looks at where the conversations in the community already exist, and whether those involved have a digital space they can go to for information or debate.

News Deeply also launches pop-up publications that are only meant to be updated for a specific length of time, and is currently exploring the methodology around setting up pop-up sites around events such as climate conferences.

And while the company has drawn a lot of attention to the single-subject publishing model, Setrakian is keen to emphasise that News Deeply is neither a media empire, nor the single driver of this type of journalism.

News Deeply is also cautious about its adoption of new technologies, looking at what its users need first and building or utilising the right technology to address those needs second.

"We see technology in a fundamentally different way than the big incumbent media companies, who tend to embrace the latest bells and whistles with a certain kind of fetish for technology," Setrakian said.

"We're going to make use of everything on the table, we're just going to put it together in a way that solves a problem for people rather than just randomly squeezing our content into new containers."

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).