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May 19, 2023, 11:47 a.m.

An incomplete list of things that rank above news startup The Messenger in a Google search for “The Messenger”

Including a hair stylist in Overland Park, Kansas, a podcast on Ugandan politics, the 15th track on Linkin Park’s 2010 album A Thousand Suns, and “a watery zone within which a naked man slowly materializes.”

New York Post, May 19, 2023: “The Messenger media startup mocked after rocky launch: ‘I Googled and couldn’t find it.'”

A Google search for “The Messenger” didn’t bring up the site as one of the first options — instead offering up an Iowa-based news service with the same name.

“Like with any new media platform, it takes a period of time to index on Google, which will happen shortly,” a company spokesperson told The Post on Tuesday.

The rep would not reveal how many people visited the site its first day, but claimed: “We’ve hit our traffic numbers earlier than expected and it has all been organic”…

Scott Nover, a technology and business reporter for Quartz, noted on Twitter: “I would dunk on The Messenger but I googled the site’s name and cannot find it.”

Others gave more technical criticism about that the site’s “SEO [search engine optimization] strategy,” saying it was “not quite ready to support $100 million in year one ad revenue.”

Aram Zucker-Scharff, a privacy engineer, tweeted that the Messenger failed to grasp “the modern basics of SEO set up pre-launch.”

“Between the lack of modern SEO and the ad configuration I’m getting 2015 vibes all around,” Zucker-Scharff tweeted.

An incomplete list of websites that rank above news startup The Messenger in a Google search for “The Messenger”

The Messenger, a 2-D sidescroller platform game from Sabotage Studio: “As a demon army besieges his village, a young ninja ventures through a cursed world, to deliver a scroll paramount to his clan’s survival. What begins as a classic action platformer soon unravels into an expansive time-traveling adventure full of thrills, surprises, and humor.”

The Messenger, the local newspaper in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

The Messenger, the 2009 film starring Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton, and Steve Buscemi.

The Messenger, an Australian miniseries (“Ed’s life is one peaceful routine until playing cards inscribed with cryptic tasks start to arrive in the mail”) that debuted Sunday, May 14, 2023, the day before the news site The Messenger did.

The Messenger, the local newspaper in Madisonville, Kentucky.

The Messenger, a documentary film that “explores our deep-seated connection to birds and warns that the uncertain fate of songbirds might mirror our own.”

The Messenger, an online publication for “Boomers and beyond” in Clark County, Washington.

The Messenger Wiki, a wiki about the 2-D sidescroller platform game from Sabotage Studio.

The Messenger, the European Southern Observatory’s journal of astronomical science and technology.

The Messenger, a classical album by violinist Daniel Rowland and pianist Borys Fedorov.

The Messenger, a Spotify-original podcast on Ugandan pop star Bobi Wine’s attempt to oust President Yoweri Musevani.

The Messenger, a 1996 video art installation by Bill Viola (b. 1951, New York) featuring “a watery zone within which a naked man slowly materializes.”

The Messenger, “Northview High School’s Student News Source” in Fulton County, Georgia.

The Messenger, a free weekly newspaper in Hillsborough, New Hampshire.

The Messenger, an African American political and literary magazine (1917–1928), cofounded by A. Philip Randolph, important during the Harlem Renaissance.

The Messenger, the church newspaper of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Belleville, Illinois.

The Messenger Co., a manufacturer of custom stationery based in Auburn, Indiana.

The Messenger, a poem by Eleanor Wilner (“The messenger runs, not carrying the news / of victory, or defeat; the messenger, unresting, / has always been running”)

The Messenger, the Facebook page of The Messenger, a newspaper in Grapeland, Texas.

The Messenger, the sixth book in Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon series (“Gabriel Allon, art restorer and spy, has been widely acclaimed as one of the most fascinating characters in the genre and now he is about to face the greatest challenge of his life”).

The Messenger Birds, a Detroit-area rock band whose most recent album in 2022’s Tragic Comedy.

The Messenger, a play by Jeff Talbot based on Henrik Ibsen’s classic An Enemy of the People.

The Messenger (Original Soundtrack), the soundtrack to the 2-D sidescroller platform game from Sabotage Studio, by Denver musician Rainbowdragoneyes.

The Messenger, a quarterly publication of the Lynnwood Senior Center in Lynnwood, Washington.

The Messenger, an online comic in which “Kai and Kalla — a young boy and a fledgling dragonbird spirit — take on a quest in hopes the reward will solve all of their problems.”

The Messenger, a kinetic pulse rifle available to players in the online first-person shooter Destiny 2.

The Messenger, an audiobook of the 2019 novel by J. N. Chaney and Terry Maggert (“Dash never asked to be a mech pilot, but fate has other plans”).

The Hartsville Messenger, a newspaper in Hartsville, South Carolina.

Messenger, Facebook’s chat app.

Shoot the Messenger, a Chrome extension for removing messages from Facebook’s chat app.

Messenger International, a charity that “exists to develop uncompromising followers of Christ who transform their world.”

The Messenger, a 2019 World War II film from Poland starring Philippe Tłokiński, Patrycja Volny, Tomasz Schuchardt, Adam Woronowicz, and Zbigniew Zamachowski.

Kill the Messenger, a 2014 Jeremy Renner film based on the life of San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb.

Messenger Coffee Co., a Kansas City artisanal coffee roaster and cafe.

MESSENGER, a 2004–2015 orbital space mission around Mercury (“MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging”) led by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

The Messenger, a 2017 podcast about the Australian immigration detention center on Manus Island.

Shooting the Messenger,” a 2019 article in the Journal of Experimental Psychology on humans’ tendency to deem “innocent bearers of bad news unlikeable.”

The Messenger, the newspaper in Troy, Alabama.

The Messenger,” the 15th track on Linkin Park’s 2010 album A Thousand Suns (“When life leaves us blind / Love keeps us kind / Oh-woah-oh, oh-woah-oh / Oh-woah-oh, oh / Oh-woah-oh, oh-woah-oh / Oh, woah, oh, oh”)

The Messenger, a hair stylist in Overland Park, Kansas.

The Messenger-Inquirer, the newspaper in Owensboro, Kentucky.

The Messenger, the monthly newsletter of Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, Michigan.

A caveat: Google search results are shaped by many factors and can vary from user to user and over time. Your mileage may vary.

But for me, The Messenger’s website,, did not appear in the top 100 results produced by a Google search for “the messenger.” The Messenger’s Twitter account, @TheMessenger, did appear as result No. 24. Its LinkedIn page ranked at No. 30.

Meanwhile, stories about The Messenger came in at No. 11 (New York Post), 15 (CJR), 19 (Nieman Lab), 21 (The New York Times), 23 (Poynter), 29 (Mother Jones), 42 (Axios), 48 (Commercial Observer), and 99 (The Wrap).

Image of so many different messengers via Midjourney.

Joshua Benton is the senior writer and former director of Nieman Lab. You can reach him via email ( or Twitter DM (@jbenton).
POSTED     May 19, 2023, 11:47 a.m.
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