Lew Serviss: New media, same old plaid.
  • Lew Serviss: New media, same old plaid.
A new online magazine for Portland is launching today: Enzyme Media promises is will be "news for the digital age."

One difference between this online media start-up and its many competitors: They're actually going to pay people. Former print news reporter and editor Lew Serviss is running Enzyme with his family and a staff of some familiar local writers, including Cornelius Swart and Matt Singer on staff and TJ Norris, Linda Baker and April Springer as freelancers.

Serviss and his family (including son "VP of digital strategy" Ben, writer-wife Naomi and daughter-videographer Emmy) moved to Portland in 2009 and are financing Enzyme out of pocket for now. Or, as Serviss says, "Yeah, we're bootstrapping."

Originally from Philadelphia, Serviss worked for Newsday and then became an editor for a start-up print newspaper in West Hampton Beach that was wired by ISDN lines to be printed in Europe, too. When that dried up (surprise!) he was laid off and took a job as an assigning editor at the New York Times. Before moving to Portland, Serviss tried a variety of endeavors but none stuck. His spy novel didn't get picked up by a publisher, he did some teaching but didn't really like the job.

Along the way, he became passionate about the idea of entrepreneurial journalism. "This is a new site that's not some sort of repurposed, repositioned print thing," says Serviss. "This is news that's packaged for people who are on the Internet. Something that will be fast and quick, people can come in and come out, rather than sort through big piles of headlines and try to find what they want while being talked at, basically."

So now you know.