Tag Archives: newslabs

NewsTilt: What went wrong

Earlier this year we reported that NewsLabs, the company behind the NewsTilt platform, appeared to have been closed by its founders.

NewsTilt, which launched in April, aimed to provide a place for journalists to publish their work and increase direct interaction with readers.

Journalism.co.uk had contacted one of the founders Paul Biggar to try and find out what went wrong following its demise and Biggar has now composed a detailed piece looking at why he thinks it failed, as well as the right choices made along the way. His comments may be useful reading for other online news start-ups:

NewsLabs failed because of internal problems and problems with the NewsTilt product. NewsTilt failed because:

  • journalists stopped posting content;
  • we never had a large number of readers;
  • we were very slow to produce the features we had promised;
  • we did not have the money to fix the issues with NewsTilt, and it would have been tough to raise more.

None of these problems should have been unassailable, which leads us to why NewsLabs failed as a company:

  • Nathan and I had major communication problems;
  • we weren’t intrinsically motivated by news and journalism;
  • making a new product required changes we could not make;
  • our motivation to make a successful company got destroyed by all of the above.

See his full post here…

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NewsLabs closes as founders admit overestimating potential

It appears that journalism startup NewsLabs, which created the NewsTilt platform, has been closed by its founders.

NewsTilt, which we reported on in April, aimed to provide a space where journalists could publish their work and increase direct interaction with readers.

But the founders have reportedly now put the site into “hibernation”.

According to internal emails from founders Nathan Chong and Paul Biggar, published by PoynterOnline, the pair suffered a “difficult post-launch period” which they felt they could not recover from.

In his message, Chong reportedly says they overestimated what they could achieve.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed not much has been happening with the site recently. I’m very sorry to report that this is because NewsLabs is ending.

(…) I now believe that we should never have made promises about building your online brand or large amounts of traffic (early email threads about how to deal with large number of comments now seem very ironic). If I could rewind and start again then I believe the pitch for NewsLabs should have been simpler and much more realistic: we will build you a technology platform and strive to work hard for you as programmers… but we cannot magically generate you an online brand or guarantee traffic.

Biggar then adds his apologies to those involved in the project.

I’d like to chime in with my own apologies. I had high hopes for NewsLabs and NewsTilt, and am sorry we weren’t able to follow up on our promises.

In a message sent to members last night, Biggar confirms the rumours and says he will give more details soon.

We have indeed shut down; I apologize you heard it elsewhere, but we weren’t really ready to announce it widely when it was reported. I’m writing a piece about how and why we shut it down; needless to say its not a simple explanation, but a summary is: we realized it wasn’t going to work. I’m hopefully going to post the retrospective in a couple of days.

Requests for comment direct from the founders have so far not been answered.