The Stimulist, a media website launching today, is targeting a huge but elusive demographic: The millions of young, connected Obama voters who have never subscribed to a newspaper — and never will.
Younger media consumers prioritize aggregation and social recommendations over institutional authority. So while baby boomers care if a story makes the front page of the New York Times, Millenials are more moved by items that top The Huffington Post and Drudge Report, or by a popular link on Facebook or Digg, regardless of its original source. The Stimulist aims squarely at that social media culture.
The site looks like a cross between The Daily Beast and a social networking page. It touts recommendations for other sites and stories ("good sh*t"), profiles of rising stars ("kind of a big deal"), original articles, and personal posts from the site’s founder, MSNBC host Carlos Watson.
For full disclosure and context, I met Watson this year while appearing on MSNBC, and found him a smart, talented person to watch. A glance at his accomplishments on Wikipedia will tell you that he’s more than a talking head: Harvard with honors, Stanford Law, McKinsey consulting, staffing Sen. Bob Graham, co-founding an education company (later purchased by Kaplan Inc.), and then a wide-ranging media career, too, with work at CNN, BET, CNBC and now MSNBC.
Watson also just launched a new weekend show at Air America, making him the fourth MSNBC host with a radio platform, after Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and Joe Scarborough. Watson recounted how MSNBC President Phil Griffin sees radio as a gateway to success on political television. "Part of [Griffin’s] thought on why Rachel has been so successful is that she brought additional energy and platforms to the table, primarily radio," Watson says, adding that MSNBC valued Schultz as a progressive voice who "already had a super-charged platform of radio."