OZY Media’s Liz Lufkin and Eugene Robinson on Short News Bursts, With Context

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Picture 7When Liz Lufkin, a former Yahoo News editor and Deputy Managing Editor for USAToday.com who at one time worked as a rock journalist, first agreed to meet with OZY Media she figured it was just a 30-minute meeting.

That was back in March. Fast forward to September, and Lufkin is still there, working full time as editorial director at the fledgling news site founded by former TV news anchor Carlos Watson and Samir Rao.

“For me, Carlos had taken something that I’ve been thinking about for a really long time and put it on steroids,” Lufkin says.”You need the news, you need the context, and then you need to know what’s next.”

That “something” is the Presidential Daily Brief, Lufkin says, the site’s quick list of top news headlines that lead to paragraph-long story summaries. Most of OZY’s content, in fact, comes in short bursts like this: 500-word reported pieces punctuated by large, tile-like visual images.

On Wednesday, Lufkin is joining the Stanford Graduate Program in Journalism for an hour-long seminar to discuss OZY Media’s approach to online news creation and distribution.

Picture 20Accompanying Lufkin is Eugene Robinson, a deputy editor at OZY. Robinson has written for GQ magazine, Vice, PC Gamer, Revolver, MacLife and more. He is also a Stanford graduate and was the lead singer for a hard-core punk band, proving that the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

“I’m glad The New York Times has so many articles, above and below the fold, but that’s not the way people are consuming news these days,” Robinson says.

“If I’m at a party and the smartest guy at the party is saying something interesting, I don’t need to listen to him for an hour, I need to listen to him for five minutes.”

Mountain View-based OZY — named after Ozymandias –describes itself as the “go-to daily news and culture site for the Change Generation.” It includes a mix of stories that mirror the highly edited, condensed style of the Presidential News Brief section, providing viewers with a manageable amount of daily content that is varied but not overwhelming. “Freedom of choice is what we have,” Robinson says, “freedom from choice is what we want.”

OZY launched a few weeks ago, so Lufkin and Robinson have declined to discuss what kind of traffic or engagement levels the site is seeing in its early days.

But already the edgy news outlet, which includes categories such as “Fast Forward,” “Good Sh*t” and “Acumen,”  has found content partners in NPR and USA Today.

It also claims some high-profile, Silicon Valley investors, including Laurene Powell-Jobs, angel investor Ron Conway and Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig.

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Here are some OZY links to check out for the seminar:


Text by Lauren Goode and Hayley Goldbach