The Independent Journal Review is an American viral news website.[2] It has over 35 million visitors a month according to Alexa. The firm describes itself as a " social first, mobile first news company" dedicated to reporting news in an "objective, fair, and entertaining way to a large and engaged independent-minded audience."[3]

The Independent Journal Review was founded in 2012 by entrepreneurs and former Republican party staffers Alex Skatell and Phil Musser.[4] The editor is Bert Atkinson, a former waiter.[5] Skatell has described the site as targeting a "mainstream center-right audience." The site has been described as a cross between BuzzFeed and RedState,[5] and a cross between the Drudge Report and Upworthy.[6]

History

In 2012, Alex Skatell, a former digital director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, launched the Independent Journal Review, using $40,000 that Skatell had earned via a software application that he developed at college. He believed that there was a gap in the market for a publication that would appeal to “a more mainstream center-right audience” and began aggregating news stories on a Facebook page called Conservative Daily. Skatell promoted the page and later launched the Independent Journal Review.[5]

Skatell teamed up with Phil Musser, a former executive director of the Republican Governors Association, who became a co-founder of the journal. Skatell then hired his friend Bert Atkinson to fill the position of editor and chief writer. Atkinson hired a staff of writers and editors to contribute to the journal.[5]

In January 2015, an angel investment firm invested $1.5M in the parent company of the site and Pete Snyder joined the board.[4]

In June 2015, they hired Benny Johnson as a "content director". Johnson had previously worked at Buzzfeed but was fired after plagiarizing content from other websites.[7]

On October 1, 2015, it was announced that Dave Helmreich would join the company as Chief Operating Officer.

Independent Journal Review won the 2015 MediaPost OMMA Award for Best in Web Site Excellence in News and Politics, beating out finalists Harvard Business Review and HBO’s political blog for Real Time with Bill Maher.[8] It has also been named the 2015 Best New Publisher by Digiday.

Independent Journal Review partnered with ABC News to host the Republican Presidential Debate on February 6, 2016.[9]

Operations

The Independent Journal Review is owned by Media Group of America.[10] The journal employs approximately ten full-time staff members and several contributing writers[11] but they do not report from outside their office.[5]Digiday described the Independent Journal Review's publishing model as "hyper-viral," with short articles of only a few hundred words that combine "scandalous, curiosity-inducing headlines . . .with a focus on conservative interests."[6]

The audience for the Independent Journal Review has been identified as people who live in the beltway[6] and those who live outside Washington D.C. and whose interests are less focused on politics than those of political insiders.[11]

From November 2013 to November 2014, IJR revenues grew five hundred percent.[5] The site runs pre-roll advertisements and large display ads while advertising on Facebook.[11]