True/Slant launches – a new journalism model?

True/Slant is a new site that launched in Alpha today, “an original content news network tailored to both the “New Journalist” and marketers who want a more effective way to engage with digital audiences.  Contributors, consumers and marketers each have a voice on True/Slant.”

Walt Mossberg writes about the site in tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal and highlights a few of the site’s distinctive elements:

True/Slant will run regular Web ads throughout. But, in a highly unusual move, the site plans to offer advertisers their own entire pages where they can run blogs and try to attract a network of followers. These will have the same design and features of the journalists’ pages, but will be labeled as ad content.

The journalists are paid a small amount, but the plan is to turn them into minipublishers under the True/Slant umbrella. They will be offered a share of the advertising and sponsorship revenues their individual pages generate and, in some cases, equity in True/Slant, which is backed by venture capital….

In another unusual move, the contributors also are required to actively engage with readers on the site. They must post a minimum number of comments in reader discussions about their articles and curate the comments, giving prominence to the most interesting. They are even expected to comment on each other’s posts.

This required engagement is an attempt to capture some of the excitement of a social network, and it ties in directly with a contributor’s success.

  • Julia

    I am curious to see how their business model with work out. I’m not crazy about the way they incorporate ads into the site. They are labeled, but the design is exactly the same, and if you aren’t looking critically it is easy to get confused (especially when NYTimes.com is one of the advertisers). I can’t say that I would visit True/Slant often, but I am a fan of Newsy.com, which launched this week too. Newsy also has an innovative business model, it’s a news startup partnered with the MO School of Journalism and uses journalism students to produce short video segments that compare and contrast how different media outlets around the world are covering the story.

  • Max

    Ad’s on the site wouldn’t bother me — it seems to be a digital extension of what many magazines already do, which is mask sponsored content with article-esque layouts and an “ADVERTISEMENT” banner atop the page. I really enjoy the discussion I see between writers on True/Slant – it makes it more than just additional junk food for my RSS reader. I’ll be visiting often.

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