The Quality Makers: Mosheh Oinounou of Mo News

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Mosheh Oinounou is an Emmy-award winning news producer with experience at CBS, CNBC, Fox News, and Bloomberg TV. Before the pandemic, he left traditional media — and, in a way, fell right back into it. As the founder and editor in chief of Mo News, a social-first news organization, his mission is to give readers access to factual, entertaining, and unbiased information — even if that’s something that feels impossible these days.

The COVID side project has now turned into a full-fledged operation with 454,000 Instagram followers, a website, a podcast, and a newsletter. Mo News is devoted to curating verified and balanced news, and it’s slowly growing into an organization that’s hard to ignore. We sat down with Oinounou to ask him about the state of journalism today, reporting the news through social platforms, and how we can save — or, at least, try to save — the future of media.

TQE: How did you get into journalism? Walk us through the start of your journey.

Mosheh: From a very young age, I was very into the news. I grew up outside of Chicago and as a kindergarten and first grader, we lived in an apartment above a Baskin Robbins ice cream shop. One time, my father gave me 50 cents to buy an ice cream downstairs — because that’s what it cost in 1990 — and I came back with a copy of the Chicago Tribune. I was naturally very curious, and I was obsessively watching local news. I became a pen pal with the local weatherman in Chicago, and I eventually got a tour of the studio.

Fast forward, I went to school at George Washington University in Washington, DC partially because I wanted to be in the center of everything. I did a few journalism internships, and then my first job ended up being a researcher at Fox News Sunday for Chris Wallace where I was preparing interviews with the president and the vice president and various world leaders. I went to Washington thinking I might work in government, but that really reinforced my passion for being a journalist.

TQE: I’d love to give readers a look into what got you to where you are — how did Mo News come to be?

Mosheh: I sort of backed into Mo News. For many years, I worked in traditional media at places like Fox and Bloomberg and CBS, and then I did a bunch of things in digital and ran the CBS Evening News. Then, I needed a break from news and thought I’d go work in documentaries. Lo and behold, less than a year after leaving CBS to figure out my next thing, COVID hits.

Like everyone else, I was stuck at home. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t in a newsroom. It made me realize that being a consumer of news and not in a newsroom totally sucks. Where am I getting my information? Who do I trust? I found that my friends and family had the same questions, so I was using Instagram stories to communicate with a couple hundred of them to say things like hey, I watched the Fauci briefing, this is what they’re saying or here’s an interesting study coming out of Italy. I was using my journalism skills to inform my family and friends.

My then girlfriend — now wife — told me to make my page public, and then suddenly thousands of people started following. Suddenly celebrities started following me, the Jonas Brothers started following me and Priyanka Chopra and all of these people started following my account which was pretty incredible. When the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, started following, I was like, oh, this is a thing, there’s an opportunity here, and that’s when my personal Instagram account became Mo News.

This was when I was just covering COVID, but then people began to say that they’ve come to depend on me for news every day. I was like, oh, I’ve fallen back into the news trap, but I found it very fulfilling because I was doing it on my own. We began on Instagram and then, given the modern media environment, I launched a daily news podcast and a daily newsletter and have really tried to grow beyond the Instagram account.

TQE: How does running Mo News differ from working in other newsrooms? Are there any similarities?

Mosheh: Working in news is all about making decisions on stories. Whether you’re working for yourself on Instagram or whether you’re running the CBS Evening News, you’re deciding on a daily basis what are the stories that are important, interesting, entertaining, and relevant to an audience.

What’s interesting about doing Mo News is that I have complete autonomy and freedom. In some ways I’m limited by how much text you can put on the screen that’s readable, and I’m also limited by my resources. I’m not a global network — I’m one person, and now a couple people.

What I love about social media is that this is a conversation with the audience. I’m getting a whole bunch of DMs from people being like, hey, did you see this? Can you fact check this for me? I joke that we call this news concierge sometimes. In many cases, it’s really explaining the basics to people. Most people lead busy lives and they’re like, wait, how did this whole thing in the Middle East start again? What’s going on in Ukraine right now? What’s the deal with the Supreme Court? Sometimes it’s basic civics, sometimes it’s international history, and that’s what I like about being at a newer platform is that interaction.

When we cover stories, I immediately hear from people who are initially impacted and involved with very specific feedback. For example we did a story this week on Lyme disease as tick season kicks off, and I had somebody who’s working on the Lyme vaccine at Pfizer [message me] and tell me about the progress they’re making now. The engagement is incredible and our audience really is everywhere.

TQE: The main draw of Mo News is being non-partisan. Do you think a reporter or an outlet can ever truly be non-partisan? Is there ever a time where being non-partisan is not possible?

Mosheh: Some people [say], “I like you Mosheh because you’re unbiased,” and I’m like, don’t use the word unbiased — I’m biased. We’re all biased. I’m biased by the fact that I live in Brooklyn, New York and I’m a male and I’m American and I went to school in DC and I’m a father. We all have our biases. What I try to ensure is that I approach politics from a place where I don’t have an agenda, and it frustrates some people reading.

I seek out truth and I seek to be fair. I think it’s important to provide perspectives, but that doesn’t mean that every story has two perspectives that are completely equal. I still live in a world of facts, even if there’s people who deny basic facts. Sometimes people will accuse me of bias — you can accuse me of bias, but I’m going to tell you that the Earth revolves around the sun and that the Earth is round and that certain things happen. Some things are not necessarily debatable.

TQE: How does Mo News check its biases?

Mosheh: It’s a challenge. You have to check your biases every day. I appreciate it when the audience comes to me and they’re like hey, I feel like you’re missing this perspective. Now, some people say it nicer than others and some people say it more disrespectful than others, but that’s why we have a team to check biases and ensure we’re doing as fair a job as possible. We have diverse perspectives within the team, and then beyond that, I depend on that feedback from the audience. I think it’s an ongoing challenge and I try my best.

When it comes to international events and politics, I am a product of my experiences. Sometimes [I] initially react to certain stories a certain way, but we try our best to ensure that we’re being as fair as possible in covering stories.

TQE: Your organization relies on social first news with Instagram being your main platform. How do you navigate the evolving platform — for example, earlier this year IG announced it would be de-emphasizing political content. Has that changed how you approach your work?

Mosheh: In the past 10 years, a lot of the media has discovered that they can’t completely depend on social platforms for traffic and an audience. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, they were all created for things other than news — people now use them to get their news, but that is not the priority of those platforms. They’re incredible tools to grow, engage with, and reach an audience, but one thing I’ve been trying to do is launch on other platforms where I have a more direct relationship with that audience, and that includes both a podcast and a newsletter. While we continue to grow our audience on social media, I know how important it is to build an audience on platforms that I can take with me in the future, if and when social media platforms evolve or go away or one becomes less trendy. Then, I can still report the news on a platform that isn’t constantly in flux based on the algorithm of the social media platform.

TQE: What do you think is next for the news ecosystem?

Mosheh: The business is evolving. Advertising has gone to Google and Facebook and social media, and so the economics of the media have been completely blown up. That’s a huge issue. The news, so to speak, is trying to figure out how to stay afloat and stay in business. What that means is some are going to more sensational content and some are going to more paid content, and that’s really unfortunate because that eliminates trust. If we’re to survive here and thrive [news media needs] to evolve with the times, embrace new platforms, engage with their audience and find out what they care about, and end the one-way street and make it a two-way street [with their audience].

News is your truth, it’s the facts of a society by which we live, make decisions, and vote, and so it’s really important to have a healthy news ecosystem. [Companies] really need to focus on reaching their audience and being transparent with them because trust is a huge issue when it comes to news.

TQE: What tips would you give to people who want to be better at consuming news?

Mosheh: First, take a deep breath. Don’t immediately share or retweet something you see out there. If something seems too good to be true or too bad to be true, double check it. I think that we can all contribute to a healthier news ecosystem by taking a beat.

Second, remember that social media is not real life. Remember that the voices in the news also don’t necessarily cover everyone. The loudest voices on the extremes tend to get the most attention. Be skeptical and put a critical eye to things.

Third, it’s very hard to break out of your bubble when it comes to views, but it’s important as a good citizen and as a good neighbor to ensure you’re getting multiple perspectives on a story — even a perspective that you might disagree with — for a bit of understanding of why that came to be. That’s some of the most interesting things we do on Mo News. I’ll be like, hey this happened — here’s the headline from The Wall Street Journal and Fox News, here’s the headline from The New York Times. Same event, completely different headlines.

Fourth, fact check, fact check, fact check. I know it requires a bit of extra work but again, if you see a headline out there, give it a Google. Do you recognize the names of any of the media outlets reporting that headline? Or is no one reporting that headline? Don’t always assume the worst possible circumstance. People tend to paint the entire media with a bad brush, and I think it’s like any profession out there — there are good journalists and there are bad journalists, even at the same outlet. View the world through shades of gray, view the media through shades of gray. The truth, with enough perspective, will lie somewhere between.

TQE: What’s exciting you about the future of media?

Mosheh: I’m really excited about the opportunity that the media and journalists have on these new platforms and about the opportunity to reach people directly. We see a lot of doom and gloom headlines about saving the media — some warranted and unwarranted — but I think that we’ve entered an era where we can really have a direct relationship with the audience, and it presents media organizations with an incredible opportunity.

Businesses and brands can have an incredible influence in fighting misinformation and supporting good media out there. They can ensure that they’re advertising on platforms and media properties that they like and respect that they think are doing good work and contributing positively to the conversation. This is a capitalist system, so the decisions that are made by companies in terms of the media they work with and are advertising with can go to great lengths to help shape the media ecosystem.

*This interview was edited for clarity and brevity. Have a founder you’d like us to interview next? Let us know at

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