Media Frenemy LinkedIn Raids Fortune, Wall Street Journal for Editors

LinkedIn Sold $500 Million in Ads Last Year

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LinkedIn's Influencer network.
LinkedIn's Influencer network.

LinkedIn is extending its streak of poaching journalists from the same traditional news organizations that usually enjoy their relationship with the social network -- and the traffic it drives their way. This time LinkedIn has reached into the newsrooms of The Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine for editors to help marshal the site's army of contributing writers.

Caroline Fairchild, a Fortune reporter and creator of the email newsletter "Broadsheet," will be a San Francisco-based editor for LinkedIn, the company said. She is joining LinkedIn shortly after it raided the Journal to hire the paper's social media and analytics editor, Maya Pope-Chappell, who will be an editor in New York.

Ramya Venugopal, a veteran journalist, is also joining LinkedIn as its first editor in India.

The move reinforces LinkedIn's reputation as a "frenemy" to publishers like the Journal and Fortune. Both titles rely partly on LinkedIn to send traffic to their sites, even though LinkedIn also uses their presence on its platform to bolster its own ad revenue, which reached nearly $500 million last year. A dollar spent on LinkedIn is one not spent around someone else's content. For that reason, a publishing exec confided to Ad Age last fall that LinkedIn keeps him up at night.

"I've always worried that they'd get sophisticated … about selling brand advertising around content," this person said.

But LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, in an attempt to assuage these fears, told Ad Age back then:

"We're not trying to become a principal in creating content at the expense of publishers. We're trying to help publishers get their content in front of the right audience and in doing so create value for that audience and the publisher. So they're core constituents in our publishing ecosystem."

Whatever its intentions, LinkedIn's "publishing ecosystem" continues to conquer more territory. There have been more than 1 million "long-form posts" on LinkedIn, Mr. Weiner told investors this month. And recently, he added, the site saw its first week with more than 50,000 new posts.

The new hires will be responsible for suggesting editorial topics to LinkedIn's roughly 500 influencers -- prominent members of the business, political and entertainment industries who write on LinkedIn. The editors will also help steer LinkedIn's series of editorial packages -- such as its video series -- which throw a spotlight on influencers, as well as curate posts from other media companies.

The editors will report to LinkedIn Executive Editor Dan Roth, who is a former Fortune editor.

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