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May. 18 2010 — 8:33 pm | 40 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

State of The New News: Spring 2010

Having True/Slant featured in a New York Times Magazine article is an excellent Win for our team, Contributors and Members. The article was thoughtful and represented some of our team’s ideals; I’ll presume the ideals of FasterTimes and Demand Media were also presented well. It’s validating to have our work featured as part of a well-researched and executed piece in The Times. What I’d like to see now are some more conclusions from the main stream regarding the State of the New News: Where do the Media Thinkers feel the journalistic, audience-building and advertiser-interest success stories have been to this point?

There is plenty to go by:

Gawker Media (40MM UVs / month*)
HuffPo (28.5MM)
Politico Group (6MM)
The Daily Beast (3MM)
RealClearPolitics (1.5MM)
True/Slant (1.1MM)
The Awl (276k)

(* All metrics from quantcast.com)

These properties represent tens of millions in (the people formerly known as the) audience every month. They produce a significant amount of content and coverage. And they’re not all solely reliant on banners and ad networks. Outside of their financial aspects*, what I’d like to hear is Media Thinkers’ deeper-dive into their qualitative successes as journalistic, audience-building and “new advertising” endeavors.  What’s the opinion re work done to date? What have we learned re the Best Ways Forward? In my opinion, it’s past time for ambivalence about what the New News might look like – it would be excellent to hear the Media Thinkers recognize some winners and also-rans, pick some directions, place bets and make recommendations.

(* -Understood “outside of financials” leaves gaping holes – we can cover those in other discussions; surely there’s enough to go by regarding models and content, audience and quality.)

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Apr. 13 2010 — 6:02 pm | 92 views | 0 recommendations | 4 comments

Slant, Tilt and Bias

Apples and oranges

They are different - (Image by tillwe via Flickr)

NewsTilt – a new news platform backed by YCombinator – launches today. Word of their launch has been crackling on the wires (well, some of the wires) for a few weeks and they’ve been getting good ink.
From their press release

“In the future, news will be all about the journalist and their community,”

By handling distribution, advertising, and myriad technical issues, NewsTilt will free-up its stable of professional journalists to focus specifically on their craft, and interact with readers just as bloggers have in the past.

And from their site at newstilt.com

NewsTilt is the platform for the new model of journalism, which is centered around the journalist. We handle everything that is hard about building your brand online, leaving the writing and reporting to you.

I obviously like what NewsTilt is planning to do – I’ve been doing it myself for the past 20 months. The more the merrier, as Lewis said earlier, and “Nothing will work, but everything might” as C. Shirky did even earlier than that.

Comments on NewsTilt’s pre-announcement on Hacker News included references to us at True/Slant. As did comments on their press release. So, too, did the nice write up they got on TechCrunch. And also a bunch of stuff across Twitter. One or both of the Founders have not been keen on these comparisons. This is natural: we’re biased to think that what we create is its own precious snowflake. We felt that bias when people compared True/Slant to others who’d come before us.

They will be different: we’re different teams with different sets of experiences, different goals and outlooks. Even with much of the same basis, seemingly small tweaks can be huge differences and differentiators. I look forward to seeing those from NewsTilt.

What’s more interesting to me is the sameness of how NewsTilt (I’m really having a hard type keying in that name correctly … I’ll go buy the typo domain in case they get huge quickly …) is going about their business:

  • Quality journalism created by credible sources
  • Focus on the journalist / Contributor / author / proprietor / “Brand” (apologies, Caitlin, et al.)
  • A simple platform that abstracts all the technology and administration and distribution, etc. so the journlist / Contributor can focus on writing and community

Focus from the outset is on quality of community member participation, too. It’s been amusing and satisfying to watch all the recent hubbub about comments, boosting the signal-to-noise ratios in web discussions, in making sure community members have a bit of skin in the game so they’re not simply flying in, tossing a molotov cocktail and flying back out. We’ve planned and done all those things from the beginning. And, again, there’s satisfaction that goes along with that. (N.B. I wish that satisfaction came with a side of “BIG FAT CHECK,” but we take what we can get …).

Another point of interest Prof. Rosen touches on is the bias inherent in journalism. We’re people; we can observe and report, but there’s always going to be a Slant or a Tilt to it; the hope is, there’s also some True or News, too.

Apr. 7 2010 — 12:27 pm | 70 views | 0 recommendations | 3 comments

Suggested Reading – Finding your News

Within the True/Slant network, there are 300+ Contributors, 25,000+ articles and tens of thousands of comments. The network is made up of individual Contributors; each a credible, knowledgeable source of news and information. Contributors care not only about their original work, but about the ongoing conversations on their sites. Contributors tend to the overall experience created by their Community – Members, visitors and other Contributors who read and respond to their articles, share with their cohorts, and send messages with tips to Contributors. Helping our Communities find  new stories and people of interest is an ongoing effort.

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Mar. 25 2010 — 11:59 am | 10 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Robert Culp

Apropos of nothing re this blog, Robert Culp was a bad-ass in one of my favorite television shows – “The Greatest American Hero.”

Rest easy, Bob.

Mar. 23 2010 — 12:08 am | 90 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

The iPad Gold Rush

To make the initial list for the April 3 launch, iPad apps have to be submitted and approved by March 27. Getting onto the launch list is sure to generate a decent number of app sales; making an Editors’ Picks or Top Downloads list can launch you into The Bigs: Whether it’s sales or just installs and marketshare developers are chasing, the final leg of the race is now.

The Kindle app on the iPhone is slick and handy. It’s TBD whether this app makes it through Apple’s screening process for iPad: Amazon competes directly with Apple’s bookstore and cuts them out of the loop completely when you buy books through the Kindle app. Amazon’s hedging its bets noting Kindle runs on other “tablet computers” they’re expecting to hit the market post-iPad.

Apple’s expanding its bookstore; Amazon’s got a big head start – if the Kindle and Nook apps are accepted, their combined titles will all be available, too. Tens of thousands of Project Guttenberg titles will also be freely available. Padders will have access to the whole shebang. continue »

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    About Me

    I've been building web stuff (pardon the argot) since ~1994. Since we started up, I've lead technology for True / Slant. I spent the previous 8 years working with the magazines and web properties of Condé Nast; the last 18 months of that were working on parade.com and with their hundreds of newspaper partners. Before that I built cool products and businesses for About.com, Prodigy and IBM.

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