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Axios: Lessons from a Media Startup

News media startups are popping up like mushrooms after a rainstorm, but some of them manage to stand out in the crowd.

Axios, for example, is worth attention for its no-nonsense approach to news, for the pedigree of its founders and team, and for its willingness to share its lessons widely.

Co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei (also a co-founder of Politico) recently posted “The Axios Way: How you do it”. It’s also worth having a look at the company’s manifesto, which provides guiding principles that could be included in everybody’s best practices list.

“All of us left cool, safe jobs to start a new company with this shared belief: Media is broken — and too often a scam,” the manifesto begins. “Stories are too long. Or too boring. Web sites are a maddening mess. Readers and advertisers alike are too often afterthoughts. They get duped by headlines that don’t deliver and distracted by pop-up nonsense or unworthy clicks. Many now make money selling fake headlines, fake controversies and even fake news.”

“The Axios Way: How you do it,” and an earlier document, “The Axios Way”, provide lessons from the startup of Axios earlier this year, and Politico a decade ago.

Though brief, the posts provide a wealth of insights. One of our favorites: “If you don’t know with precision what your company is doing broadly, and what you are doing personally, run. Clarity of purpose is key.”

Interestingly, they see their advice as being beneficial to all organizations, not just media startups. As they put it: “Thanks to the explosion of technology and social media in particular, every industry — and most jobs — are changing faster than ever. This requires a new set of strategies to thrive in this era of transparency, distraction and disruption.”

Their advice is simple, concise and down to earth. You can find it here.

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