Maer Roshan, the founder of the gossip mag and site Radar, has debuted his new project, an online news magazine called The Fix. The site is tightly focused on news and investigative features surrounding drug and alcohol addiction. But this is not a “self-help” site and The Fix will zero in on celebrity gossip (“The Messiest Celebrity Breakdowns“). But the question is: will the site be able to attract advertisers and a sizable readership to such a narrowly concentrated set of news?
Over the past few years, a number of general health care sites have emerged to try to capture consumers’ insatiable desire to self-diagnose. That has certainly attracted advertisers and health care is generally a safe bet for a content site.
Roshan, who serves as CEO and editor, said that he believes that most sites haven’t aimed content directly at the millions of people who have been and will go through addiction, either directly or through a family member.
For example, he said there are 20,000 rehabs in the U.S. and that it represents a hugely under-served market in terms of content. Roshan also cited other stats from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 24.2 million adults in the U.S. (8.9 percent of the population) were classified as substance dependent last year; 4 million of these went on to receive treatment, spending over $20 billion on care at nationwide rehab facilities.
In terms of a business model, aside from advertising to recovering addicts, their families and the services that cater to them, The Fix is setting up a Zagat-like guide to recovery facilities called RehabReview. “If you do a search on these places across the web, the information is all the same,” Roshan said. “But no one tells you what the accommodations are like, what the food is like. You can go on Yelp and find out about what people are saying about pizza places in your area. But there’s nothing like that for rehab. We feel like that could be a business on its own.”
His cofounder in The Fix, Joe Schrank, the associate editor, has some experience with this area. Schrank also runs The Core Company, a company that offers to set up interventions, crisis management and handle court case issues related to addiction. Schrank is also the founder of Loft 107, which is self-described as a “safe living recovery home.”
As the site tries to balance serious investigative pieces — there’s an investigative piece on a Scientology-backed rehab — and lighter celebrity fare, the hope is that standing apart from the treacly self-help sites will help build buzz and drive visitors and ad dollars. “We’re not going after celebs who have problems, that would be insane if we did that,” Roshan said, contending that the celeb features aren’t going to be as prurient as typical tabloid coverage. “But if everybody’s talking about Charlie Sheen, we certainly have to have some reference to that. Because we’re offering a different approach, we’ll also be able to get interviews others wouldn’t. We’re talking to people going through addiction. It’s not exploitative, but we’re not going to through softballs either.”