Reuters Deal Kicks Off Busy July for Sharon Waxman

This past Friday, TheWrap launched a dramatic expansion of its content syndication partnership with Reuters America. In place of the Hollywood Reporter and Billboard, the website will try to help Reuters aggressively go after AP clients, aided by new film critics Alonso Duralde and Leah Rozen and added music critic Chris Willman.

It’s a major coup for website founder Sharon Waxman. FishbowlLA caught up with the former New York Times reporter via telephone on the quiet afternoon of July 1 to get the scoop on how the deal came about.

“Reuters terminated the relationship with the Hollywood Reporter,” Waxman confirmed. “This has been in the works for a while now. It’s a very big deal for Reuters to do this, because they have clients who’ve been getting a certain kind of content need for quite a long time and are accustomed to that. So they have to untangle that and sort of prepare their clients for the fact that it’s going to change.”

“And the thing is, we’re not the Hollywood Reporter and Billboard,” she added. “We’re not interchangeable. We believe our content is better suited overall. They were much more trade oriented. I don’t come from a trade background.”

“For the first year, when I was building TheWrap’s identity, I had a big sign in the newsroom that said, “No slang,” with a whole list of trade-isms like ankled, inc., helming… To helm is not a verb; write it in English that a reasonably well educated person can understand. And that makes it easier for Reuters to pick up our feed.”

Later this month, Waxman will be launching another major new initiative, the Power Grid. Along with the previously scheduled mid-month start of reporters Fred Schruers and Lucas Shaw, it all adds up to a very busy July.

“The Power Grid is a ranking system of movies and projects before they get made, as well as actors, writers, directors, producers, agents… Everybody who’s basically anybody in the entertainment industry,” said Waxman. “That’s coming in about three weeks time and is being run by Jason Scoggins. It’s not a power list in the traditional [static] sense; it’s drawn from hard business data in an algorithm that we’ve built. It’s a dynamic ranking system.”