An inside look at The Messenger — from startup to shut down — 10 months and 50 million dollars later


Darren Samuelsohn, a seasoned journalist known for his insightful political reporting, first made his mark at Politico, a Washington-based digital newspaper company founded by American banker and media executive Robert Allbritton. During his nearly 10 years there, Samuelson demonstrated a keen ability to dissect complex political issues and provide readers with comprehensive analysis.

After establishing himself as a respected figure in journalism, Samuelsohn embarked on a new chapter in his career after being recruited in April of 2023 by The Messenger, a 50 million dollar digital news startup founded by part-owner of The Hollywood Reporter and The Hill, Jimmy Finkelstein.

For 10 months, Samuelsohn focused on his work as part of a team of over 200 journalists with a mission to become a national, politically-centered news brand that would cover politics, business, entertainment and sports.

Finkelstein stated in his first interview that he was creating an alternative to a national news media that he says has come under the sway of partisan influences. The site would be free and supported by advertising revenue, which he projected would be over 100 million dollars at the end of the first year.

But alas, that did not happen as news reporting began to reveal The Messenger facing major financial headwinds just 10 months after startup. Axios posted a story on January 4th, 2024, that The Messenger was seeking an additional 20 million dollars to remain in business.

A few weeks later, on January 31st, the news media industry learned that The Messenger was shutting down when Finkelstein emailed its 300-plus employees, stating, “We exhausted every option available.” He went on to state that he was “personally devastated.”

In this episode of “E&P Reports,” we go inside the newsroom of the now-defunct digital news startup, The Messenger, by going one-on-one with their former senior editor, Darren Samuelsohn. We learn first-hand about The Messenger's initial 50 million dollar mission to become the unbiased, new national news source and how the hundreds of journalists reacted to their recent firings just 10 months after startup.



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