Axios Hire Signals Commitment to Local Strategy

We may pay too much attention to what Axios is up to in the local space. But perhaps not. Today, for example, Axios named a senior editor from the New York Times as its executive editor for Axios Local. The move is yet another clear example that Axios is all “in” on Local.

New hire Jamie Stockwell’s portfolio will expand from 25 cities by mid-summer this year to 50 cities by the end of 2023.

Perhaps the resume item that spoke most to the Axios Local team was Stockwell’s having overseen the New York Times coverage of the state of Texas. In order to be successful at covering local, one needs to understand the nuances and complexities of how local is considerably different from a national news process. 

Axios Executive Editor for Local Jamie Stockwell

Stockwell’s coverage could include as many as 100 markets later in this century. That would be a considerable challenge for Axios Local. However, it also offers the company a clear shot at participating in the multi-billion dollar local advertising industry. 

Axios Local is putting into place a structure for curating and editing local news content. The company also announced that an early editorial side employee of the Charlotte Agenda — the company Axios purchased in 2020 to help define the local playbook – has taken a role as its Southern bureau chief. 

People or Partnerships?

So today, Axios Local has about 50 employees or roughly two per market. That’s well short of what’s needed to build deep, engaging local content. We assume Axios’ local plans include building a compelling local advertising and sponsorship business. That’s going to require more resources. And it will require partnerships.

We expect Axios Local will pursue creative initiatives with local agencies and publishers to build its revenue. It just doesn’t make sense today to create a large owned and operated local sales force for monetizing local content. 

Axios’ public fundraising stands just south of $60 million. But just four months ago, the company took an undisclosed series D round from Cox Enterprises. That Cox Enterprises – $21B of revenue in 2018 – is an investor comes as no surprise to us. After all, Cox has been in the local media and telecommunications for years. 

So by taking a stake in Axios (and by extension Axios Local) Cox is rightfully pursuing a new local content and ad model. And one built on the economics of the 21st century. And they’re not the only ones. According to the Local Independent Online News Publishers Association, there are some 700 startup publications now operating in the U.S. and Canada.

As we said, we may be paying too much attention to what Axios Local is up to. Maybe you can tell us if we’re on target or off base. 

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