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TheSkimm’s founders dismissed critiques that their newsletter trivializes serious world events

“I think that we’re theSkimm for a reason,” theSkimm co-founder Danielle Weisberg said.

Carly Zakin (left) and Danielle Weisberg
Asa Mathat

TheSkimm co-founders Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg have managed to build a product that deeply engages with a hard-fought-over demographic of female millennials. But Zakin and Weisberg have been fielding criticism over patronizing that very audience.

“What we found is not a one-size-fits approach to news, and that’s part of what is broken in traditional media,” Zakin said at Recode’s Code Media conference.

“Our goal is, this is for people who don’t have a lot of time and wouldn’t have gotten this information,” she continued. “We will never apologize for getting millions of people to interact or engage with the world around them. ... We are nothing but proud of that.“

Zakin brushed off the criticism, saying it mostly came from media reporters and organizations that theSkimm audience has never heard of.

Watch their full answer below:

“What’s funny is that criticism that has come out about theSkimm in the last year or so has largely come from media reporters and media organizations that our community has been, like, ‘I’ve never heard of that company before and we feel insulted,’ so we continue doing what we’re doing,” Zakin said. “We root for all media and we hope that everybody does the same.”

But when pressed about how they decide what tone to take when writing about, for example, recent heightened tensions between Iraq and Israel, Weisberg said they write how people speak.

“If you are talking about what’s going on in a wider context and you’re not a reporter, you’re probably using words that are colloquial,” she said. “You’re probably swearing sometimes, and I think that is really our tone — which is, we’re writing conversationally. And I think that is really something that resonates with our audience.”

While Zakin said theSkimm is a fundamentally journalistic product, Weisberg said theSkimm’s role is different from that of newspapers.

“I think that we’re theSkimm for a reason,” Weisberg said. “We’re not saying that we’re giving you 10 pages on the history of conflict in the Middle East. We are trying to prepare our audience to have an opinion and go deeper on things that are talked about on a recurring basis, and we show that we send a lot of traffic to a lot of journalistic institutions that we hope benefit from having a direct pipeline to millennial traffic that they don’t get otherwise.”

Watch their full interview from Code Media below:

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