Walt Mossberg, personal technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal reports on a new kind of online venture that attempts to blend journalism, advertising, entrepreneurship and social networking all into one big ball of digital wax. The company is called True/Slant and is being helmed by Lewis DVorkin, who previously held the senior VP of programming title at AOL. True slant is home to over 100 contributors, or “Knowledge Experts” who are given a plot of digital real estate where they can plant their best reportings, posts and opinions. But that”™s not all. Each “Knowledge Expert” has the authority to manage and promote their own page and are even expected to interact with and manage their own readers and advertisers alike, hopefully forging bonds with a large crowds of hungry fans which will in turn attract advertisers who are willing to shell out the dough for ad space on the site. These “Knowledge Experts” become in effect mini-publishers who have a real stake in shaping their online property. The contributors get paid to write stories, but also share in ad revenues generated on their page and if they”™re good enough, may even get equity shares. Not a bad business model.Â But is it a good idea to mix advertising and journalism? Some think it raises ethical questions. I think it pushes the envelope and may give newspapers some ideas on how to actually get paid for what they do. It”™s a fresh and new approach to journalism, and what better time to try something that”™s never been done before.
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