Publisher Tools and Strategy

Digital Publisher Uses Story Idea Generator to Make Leap to TV

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Vocativ, formed in 2013, describes itself as a "a groundbreaking news organization for people in their 20s and 30s." It relies on a proprietary technology called Verne to scour the "deep web" for story ideas.

Vocativ's technology was a key factor in its first TV deal, with MSNBC in 2014, which produced 150 TV segments. A September 2014 segment on the since-shuttered "Ronan Farrow Daily" show, for example, focused on homophobia in Kyrgyzstan. Mikey Kay, a former Vocativ foreign correspondent, was the on-air talent.

The technology is also at the center of "Dark Net," an eight-episode series on Showtime that premiered in January. Each episode showcases three stories focused on a specific topic, such as bio-hacking, cyber-kidnapping and digital warfare.

Vocativ executives view Verne as a key differentiator when compared to other digital media companies -- like BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post -- that have expressed some interest in TV but haven't yet made the jump. Vice, another media company with digital roots, recently launched Viceland with A&E, hoping Vice's sensibilities will translate to a cable channel that attracts younger viewers.

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