Jimmy Finkelstein’s startup The Messenger faces headwinds as insiders scoff at readers’ ‘delusional’ goals

Media mogul Jimmy Finkelstein’s launch of The Messenger in May will run into financial trouble due to the “delusional” aspirations of the outdated mindset of the executives behind it, industry insiders say.

Finkelstein, the former owner of The Hill, which he sold in 2021 for $130 million, told The New York Times earlier this month that he plans to launch a politics, business, entertainment and sports news site in May that will run no less than 175 journalists. New York, Washington DC and Los Angeles, as well as the desire to have about 550 journalists during the year. And to make those lofty ambitions a reality, he has amassed $50 million in investor money.

But media insiders told the New York Post in a report released Sunday that $50 million would not be enough to launch a news site that could reach 100 million monthly viewers. The benchmark was proposed by The Messenger co-CEO Richard Beckman, former president of The Hill, with a spokesperson saying they are confident they can reach that goal by the end of 2024 along with $100 million in revenue from “a combination of direct advertising revenue, programmatic and sponsorship across multiple platforms.”

It’s a goal that one insider called The Post “delusional.”

“It’s wishful thinking,” the chief executive said. “These are ghosts from the past. If they were a public company, I wouldn’t invest in them.”

Another media critic was scathing about the 74-year-old Finkelstein’s comments in the New York Times, where he recalled the times when he and his family “watched 60 Minutes together” and waited for the next edition of Vanity Fair. “Those days are gone, and the point is, I want to help bring back those days,” Finklestein said.

“Whenever a new website links to an old magazine or TV show, you know they’re not looking to the future,” the NY Post critic said.

While The Messenger also has its own editors-in-chief, it didn’t get everyone off their wish list. Former Hollywood Reporter head and current Ankler Media CEO Janice Ming turned down the offer, as did former Daily Beast editor Jon Avlon.

Those on the board include former People editor-in-chief Dan Wakeford, Politico senior editor Marty Cady and Entertainment Weekly editor Mary Margaret, although the Post reports that Finkelstein was “vague” about how The Messenger’s editorial staff would be structured.

TheWrap reached out to Finkelstein for comment.

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