Sunday, April 12, 2009

A web-based slant on journalism

With newspapers continuing to experience their own Social Darwinian contraction, its hard to predict where journalism goes next. As print struggles to remain viable, the migration has been to the web, as various models have sprung up, attempting to capture readers moving away from print, and the younger demographic that never developed an affinity for newspapers in the first place.

Last week, reports were circulating that the Boston Globe was in serious straits financially, with the parent company, the New York Times, telling union officials who represent the paper’s 10-plus labor unions that they need to cut costs by $20 million by May 1, or risk having the veritable Hub newspaper shuttered. The unions have fired back that "enough is enough," so it's up in the air whether the Globe will remain a viable big city daily, or not. Either way, when news stories intimate that a newspaper like the Globe is in danger of going away, you know daily newspapers in general are dangerously close to flatlining.

Yet another new model of web journalism has sprung up, utilizing what is being termed, "open alpha." As Walter Mossberg, the Wall Street Journal's personal technology writer indicated, this means the site, True/Slant, is "rough around the edges, and not yet taking in revenue, but hopes to attract enough participation to hone its design and operations."

The new site is run by a former AOL news executive, Jonathan Miller, and will cover a variety of topics including politics, culture, sports, business, health, science, and food.

It appears to me to be similar in scope and focus to the Huffington Post. Time will tell if True/Slant can capture the critical mass it needs to pay writers, which is what web journalism is lacking at present.

Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, who had been a staff writer for Time, has joined True/Slant's roster of experienced journalists, which according to Mossberg, numbers 65.

Takeuchi Cullen offers her take on why she's left traditional print, to help the new site set up its own journalistic beachhead.

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