When Alfred Cardenas started trading stocks and commodities two years ago, he realized the importance of timely and in-depth news.
And when he created his first tech startup—a $1 million buy now, pay later company based in Singapore—and served as its CEO, business and financial news proved to be vital in making “key strategic decisions that involve regulators and competitors in our operating market in the Philippines,” Cardenas said.
However, he also experienced how expensive paid business and financial news can be and how shallow and click-bait-oriented most free articles are.
“Every year, I pay up to $415 to get access to these paid business and financial news articles. Free news, on the other hand, is more focused on convincing you to click ads than providing you comprehensive news you need to make informed business, investment, and trade decisions,” Cardenas said.
“That’s when I started digging deeper to learn why good business journalism is so expensive and how we can make it accessible for most existing and upcoming business & financial newsreaders and viewers,” he added.
The Old Journalism Model
Cardenas discovered that most news publishing and broadcasting companies still rely on the old journalism model that requires thousands of journalists and hundreds of news bureaus worldwide to produce good journalism.
“Learning about this made me question the whole journalism model. I don’t want to accept the notion that this is the only way to produce factual, timely, and comprehensive news. I know there’s a better way to gather, produce, and distribute news,” according to Cardenas.
“You just need to approach this problem using first principles thinking. You have to ask: what are the things I need for my company to produce the same level of world-class journalism for a fraction of the cost? A lot of ideas will pop-up in your head, but you have to dig deeper,” Cardenas said. “You need people in the field to gather news, writers to produce content, and a website, airtime, and a full broadcasting studio to publish and broadcast the news you gathered and produced. It’s capital intensive to do it this way,” he added.
TFT Media’s Journalism Model
Cardenas believes that for the whole process to be highly efficient, strategic partnerships and next-generation technologies like Artificial Intelligence are needed. “There are credible and reliable news agencies like Reuters, AFP, and the Associated Press. Why not take advantage of their resources to gather and produce your news content? Why not use next-generation technologies like Artificial Intelligence to help you publish and broadcast news for a fraction of the cost of doing things the old way?” Cardenas said. “That’s exactly what we did at TFT Media,” he added.
Cardenas founded TFT Media in the US and launched two publications: TFT News that publishes and broadcasts business and global news; and TFT Sports that publishes the latest news in the world of sports.
“Right now, I’d say 90% of our news articles are coming straight from our news agency partners. Our readers don’t mind because we don’t bombard them with intrusive ads, and we don’t charge them hefty subscription fees. Our engagement data is our solid proof,” according to Cardenas.
Today, TFT News attracts an engaged audience base daily that visits more than 11 web pages per visitor, spends over 40 minutes on their website per visitor, with only 26% bounce rate according to Alexa as of the writing of this article.
“Compare this with the Wall Street Journal’s, Bloomberg’s, and the Financial Times’ engagement metrics and you’ll realize that they only average 3 daily page views per visitor, 3 minutes of daily time spent per visitor, with over 60% bounce rate. We are clearly doing something right in this market,” Cardenas said.
On top of these engagement figures, TFT News also gathered over 23,000 registered users during its first four months of operations. They also plan to generate revenue through native content sponsorships instead of fully relying on 3rd-party advertisements.
“We already took major steps to make our journalism model efficient. We intend to do the same to make our business model work for us and our audience. We will generate revenue primarily through native content sponsorships presented in a seamless way that will benefit both our audiences and sponsors. Subscription is also a major part of our revenue mix which we priced at $4.99 annually compared to $119 to $415 annually with our competitors,” Cardenas stated.
“For now, our main focus is on native sponsorships and expanding our reach and credibility before we focus on subscription. We are currently onboarding our first batch of paid sponsors,” he added.
AI-Powered Journalists & News Anchors
TFT News is also proud to be one of the first publications and broadcasters to implement Artificial Intelligence in its content production and broadcasting efforts.
“While the leading publications implement Artificial Intelligence in some parts of their operations, we are the only ones who are brave enough to implement next-generation technologies in all of our news production and distribution efforts. This gives us an edge in the market,” Cardenas mentioned.
TFT News is in talks with several natural language generation (NLG) platforms that will help them automate their news production for data-heavy content like a company’s financial report or a sporting event. They also partnered with an Artificial Intelligence video platform to help TFT News develop and integrate AI-powered news anchors on their news shows.[Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/RmX0RmE6_38]
“In my mind, the future of news publishing and broadcasting will heavily involve Artificial Intelligence. We are so proud to be one of the first companies to use AI-powered news anchors, not just for case study purposes, but as our primary model of broadcasting news,” according to Cardenas.
“The next step for us is to develop a way to integrate real-time, AI-powered sports commentators for major sporting events. We believe that it will be a game-changer most especially if we can secure events rights in the near future. For now, our focus is more on TFT News and expanding its market reach and reputation,” he added.
Recently, TFT Media decided to open its doors and become a community-owned news & media company by launching an equity crowdfunding campaign through Wefunder.
“Being a community-based company helps us stay balanced and grounded. They make us accountable in every decision that we are making most especially when a company like us is dealing with Artificial Intelligence to gather, produce, and deliver news,” Cardenas said.
TFT Media is raising up to $107,000 through its equity crowdfunding campaign that will help them expand its reach in the Asia-Pacific region and improve and develop its existing and upcoming technologies.