TheStimulist.com, a news site created by MSNBC anchor and Air America radio host Carlos Watson, went live today. Watson is the principal investor in The Stimulist which has six full-time employees in addition to paid freelancers. WebNewser spoke with Watson about his plans for launching a successful blog.
“I’m putting my money where my mouth is,” Watson tells WebNewser. And the 39-year-old is not worried about starting a business in this dismal economic climate. “Apple, Fed Ex, Hewlett Packard, a lot of very successful things have begun in tough times, so I’m robustly optimistic.”
This isn’t Watson’s first entrepreneurial venture. In 1997, two years after graduating from law school, Watson co-founded Achieva College Prep Service. Achieva was purchased by Washington Post Company subsidiary Kaplan Inc. in 2002.
As of now, The Stimulist has lined up ad campaigns from Kaplan and the AMC television show “Breaking Bad.” The site is planning content syndication partnerships with The Huffington Post and Cosmopolitan. Popular social news site Digg.com also worked with Watson to create a feed for The Stimulist homepage showing stories that are currently being ranked by Digg users.
Watson says The Stimulist is geared towards “a younger crowd” of professionals between the ages of 25-49. He calls his target audience “the change generation or the Obama generation.”
“I don’t see anyone else who’s focused in the same way,” on this group, he says. “If you’re conservative you feel like someone listened to all your hopes and dreams and gave you Fox News, if you’re a baby boomer and you’re liberal it’s like there’s someone who gave you NPR… but there’s nothing that’s perfectly crafted for this generation.”
The Stimulist will be a departure from a traditional blog format. Watson describes it as “more akin to kind of a daily digital magazine.”
“I don’t want to just tweak the newspaper model, I don’t want to tweak the blog model, I’m trying to do something new.” Unlike many blogs that are built on a rapid-fire 24/7 stream of posts, The Stimulist offers a “daily brief” featuring five regular features and news summaries.
“A lot of sites are reactive and we mean to be proactive,” he says. Watson hopes to do this by providing unconventional perspectives on current events and staying ahead of current trends. One the most unique features on The Stimulist is “Flashback,” a series of posts that attempt to provide insight on hot topics by looking at the past. Watson also regularly posts “C-Notes” that feature his musings on a wide range of subjects.
In addition to original analysis, profiles of politicians, business leaders, and cultural figures, product reviews, and lifestyle content, The Stimulist also offers a daily news roundup and summaries of recommended articles from around the web. With criticism of news aggregators heating up, we ask Watson if he’s worried about the prospect that newspapers might start charging Websites that summarize their content. “I can’t really answer that, to tell you the truth… 80 percent of our content is original, so I’m sure people are going to replicate us,” he says. “It’s going to be a central issue for us too.”
Watson says he won’t be cutting down on his TV and radio work because of his new site. In fact, BusinessWeek’s Jon Fine reports that “there is chatter regarding his roles being expanded at both Air America and MSNBC.” It sounds like we can expect to be seeing a lot more of Watson online and on the air in the coming months.
-HUNTER WALKER for WebNewser.