W.S.J. unveils digital video portal, called Signal

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Nicole Levy

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The Wall Street Journal unveiled plans for a “digital video magazine,” called Signal, at its presentation for the Digital Content Newfronts on Friday morning in Midtown.

“Signal will curate an eclectic mix of short video dispatches into an immersive magazine experience,” WSJ Live anchor and master of the newfront ceremonies Tanya Rivero announced to an audience of mostly media buyers and advertisers.

The platform will feature original video content created by the Journal’s global news staff. (The Journal already produces some taped shows, such as "The Short Answer," an explainer series hosted by senior producer Jason Bellini, and "Startup of the Year," a contest pitting promising entrepreneurs against one another.)

The new "magazine" will also offer exclusive excerpts from established and upcoming filmmakers’ work, such as Code Black, a documentary examining America’s healthcare system from Los Angeles County Hospital’s emergency department and set to premiere in New York this June.

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The new channel was presented as a means to give filmmakers an alternate route to the film festival circuit in their search for an audience and perhaps a distributor. As Code Black filmmaker and star Ryan McGarry noted in an interview on stage with Journal senior deputy managing editor Michael W. Miller, “I think there’s a need out there for something with the pedigree and authority of the Journal to say, ‘OK, here’s another open door that’s a little more constant, in real time, for content for a filmmaker like myself.'"

Signal is the latest entry in a series of standalone portals for digital video content announced by publishers in the pursuit of online advertising money this week. At their presentations on Tuesday and Thursday respectively, Condé Nast and Time Inc. publicized similar platforms for their digital videos, The Scene and The Daily Cut.

So far, the Journal’s digital video push has produced more than 1,500 hours of original video content and 18,000 new videos, resulting in more than 480 million streams each year, editor in chief Gerard Baker said Friday.

Baker’s morning email newsletter, “The 10-Point,” a round-up of the Journal’s best stories according to the editor, will play a role in that advance. The newsletter, which has drawn around 100,000 subscribers since debuting last November, will soon include videos that feature Baker interviewing newsmakers, Rivero said.