Back in 2001, it took a six monthlong investigation by Fortune writer Bethany McLean to uncover the wrongdoings that led to the collapse of Enron. Had The Business Insider been around, it would have done it in two weeks, according to TBI President Julie Hansen — maybe with a slideshow to follow.
“We would pursue it for a couple weeks, get a lot of sources, get the data and tell people, ‘This is what we know. What do you know? What do you think?’” she said at the Digiday Publishing Summit in West Palm Beach, Fla., earlier this week. “That story would have been broken in two weeks, not six months. That’s not a knock on Fortune and Bethany’s awesome work. A lot of people would have saved money on Enron stock if it had been broken earlier.”
Hansen and XOJane editor Jane Pratt, veteran of Sassy and Jane magazines, discussed the nature of the modern publisher. The defining features of being a native digital publisher: speed. The pace, Hansen said, is “relentless.” Pratt confesses that she’s something of a Chartbeat addict, staying up late to check how many people are on her site at any given time.
The information means there’s no place to hide, both agreed. At TBI, writers are tracked in real time for how much traffic they’re driving. Not only do they know their numbers, everyone else does. On the advertising front, Pratt chuckles at the subterfuge magazines got away with in her heyday.
“In print we could just lie,” she said. “Sororities were a big bonanza for us. You could say one girl gets a copy and everyone in the house shares it. We could sell that to advertisers.”
Watch the full video of Hansen and Pratt below.