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October 27, 2022updated 17 Nov 2022 2:19pm

Janice Min: The Hollywood media executive betting big on newsletters

By William Turvill

Janice Min is widely credited with turning The Hollywood Reporter from an ageing industry newspaper into a glamorous and well-respected magazine for the 21st century.

Now she wants to shake up the Los Angeles media scene again with her newsletter start-up, Ankler Media.

In an interview with Press Gazette’s Future of Media Explained podcast, Min reveals that Ankler Media now has more than 30,000 newsletter subscribers. With a staff of four, she says the business is profitable and expects it to generate millions of dollars of revenue this year.

Min is chief executive and editor-in-chief of Ankler Media, a newsletter-based trade title for the Hollywood entertainment industry.

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Editorially, Ankler Media covers everything from competition between streaming businesses to industry diversity issues and the fallout from #metoo, talent deals and interviews with entertainment executives.

Min leads the business with Richard Rushfield, an entertainment journalist who founded the business’s flagship newsletter, The Ankler, five years ago.

“Richard was the one who really made me understand newsletters better – that people like that direct relationship,” says Min.

“When we’re creating the content for Ankler, we know exactly who it’s going to, we know who’s on the reader list, we know who’s reading it, we know what they like, we know what they don’t like… it’s in many ways an algorithm of its own. You begin serving the audience because you know them so well.

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“At The Hollywood Reporter, which is massive, when you have a 23 million unique user audience, you’re just doing a lot of stuff and getting audience from everywhere. But this is just really speaking directly to your audience in a way that changes the tenor of what you do.”

Min, 53, began her career as a local newspaper reporter and started in entertainment journalism at People magazine. She went on to serve as editor-in-chief of Us Weekly between 2002 and 2009.

She joined The Hollywood Reporter in 2010 as editorial director, and was co-president and chief creative officer of The Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group between 2013 and 2017.

Rushfield, formerly of Vanity Fair, Buzzfeed, Gawker and The Los Angeles Times, founded The Ankler in 2017 and later moved it on to the Substack newsletter platform.

Min, who briefly worked at short-form video start-up Quibi after leaving The Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group, first became involved after hearing about Rushfield’s newsletter through word of mouth.

“There was someone pretty senior in town who had – this was probably around 2017, maybe 2018 – sent me a note saying: ‘Have you seen this newsletter? It’s called The Ankler and it’s like the smartest thing I’ve ever read about entertainment.’

“I trust this person enormously, and I checked it out and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, this is great’.”

Min approached Rushfield and proposed an idea to turn The Ankler into a wider media business. Together, they launched Ankler Media in January 2022, with Min as chief executive and editor-in-chief and Rushfield as editorial director and chief columnist for The Ankler.

After forming a business plan and teaming up with investment firm Y Combinator, Ankler Media raised $1.5m at a valuation of $20m in June.

Today Ankler Media says it has around 32,000 newsletter subscribers, up from 12,000 in January, though it does not specify how many are paid subscribers. Paid subscriptions cost $149 a year or $17 a month.

Ankler has not disclosed subscription revenue, but said this has increased four times since January and will be in seven figures next year. Min says she expects revenues from sponsorship alone to be “into the seven figures” this year.

In her career up to now, at Us Weekly and The Hollywood Reporter, Min has been tasked with leading and reviving storied media institutions. Now, at Ankler Media, she faces a different type of challenge.

“It’s definitely different,” Min tells the Future of Media Explained podcast. “It’s also been super-gratifying to see how you could just literally spin something up almost out of nothing – I mean, Richard had a presence, but it was a very small audience.

“And to see it become something of significance is really fascinating and great – to see how you can create a brand from the ground. It’s great.

“It’s all largely been rescue projects before, and to do it, build by hand, has been different, but fantastic.”

Picture: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for The Business of Fashion

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