True/Slant, An Original Content News Network, Launches With Over 100 Contributors

True/Slant Homepage (Graphic: Business Wire)

NEW YORK--()--Above is a very traditional headline that follows established rules that have governed the news business for generations. That headline, and the “press release” that follows, serve to announce the Beta launch today of True/Slant (http://www.trueslant.com), an online news and commentary site that intends to update both traditional journalism and several of the existing models seeking to replace it.

Why the name, True/Slant: It is meant to convey the way news is delivered to True/Slant’s audience by knowledgeable and experienced contributors seeking the truth, while honestly conveying their opinions.

Who contributes: True/Slant launches with more than 100 “Entrepreneurial Journalists” – some from traditional print and broadcast outlets who are eager to make their mark in digital journalism, some who have already built audiences online, and some who have come by their slant on the truth via the expertise gleaned as academics and practitioners. In putting together this initial roster of contributors in time for the Beta launch, the goal has been to expand the sources of news and commentary, emphasize multiple “slants” – that is, points of view – and empower entrepreneurial journalists motivated to build an audience and engage a community.

What connects the contributors: In addition to regularly creating original content for True/Slant, contributors also curate news stories – print or video – they’ve discovered and found of interest, adding their own insight and perspective. True/Slant’s contributors have also agreed to help knock down the barriers between writers and their audience by participating in, and helping to edit, a civilized discussion built upon reader comments. Finally, they have all agreed to participate in a new effort at building a unique and profitable model for journalism online.

Facts of use to journalists prompted by this “press release” to write about today’s Beta launch: With offices in lower Manhattan, True/Slant is the brainchild of Lewis Dvorkin, who has 35 years of experience in the news business, ranging from editorial gigs at the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Newsweek, to having built AOL News into a category leader, and helped to found TMZ.com. Venture capital funding for the launch of True/Slant comes principally from Forbes Media and Fuse Capital (formerly known as Velocity Interactive Group.) (Tim Forbes has a seat on the Board of True/Slant, and so does Ross Levinsohn, the Fuse Capital partner who helped NewsCorp acquire MySpace.) Other members of the True/Slant team have experience both in online and traditional media. Here is a partial roster of some of the contributors to True/Slant:

  • Miles O’Brien, former anchor for CNN
  • Matt Taibbi, political correspondent for Rolling Stone
  • Katty Kay, BBC World News America correspondent
  • Claire Shipman, ABCNews correspondent
  • Brian Bennett, former TIME Baghdad bureau chief
  • Michael Hastings, former Newsweek reporter, book author
  • Ryan Sager, NYPost columnist, book author
  • Lisa Cullen, former TIME columnist/writer
  • Viv Bernstein, NYTimes contributor

This leaves 90+ contributors we’re not calling out by name, partly because they don’t have that instant establishing credibility that a “press release” can generate by invoking associations with established news organizations like the New York Times, Time, Newsweek, CNN, and the BBC, partly because listing everyone at this point would interrupt the narrative flow. While every contributor will be identified in a link at the end of this “news release,” here for illustrative purposes are some descriptors of other contributors:

  • Matt Welch, Editor-in-Chief Reason magazine
  • Phil Zabriskie, former TIME staff writer, National Geographic writer
  • Claudia Deutsch, former NYTimes business reporter
  • Robin Dorian, Host, People.com and former Host/Producer, Food Network
  • Michael Schaffer, former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter, best-selling author
  • Patti Hartigan, former Boston Globe reporter
  • Laurie Essig, assistant professor at Middlebury, author
  • Brian Donovan, writer for Jimmy Fallon
  • Denise Restauri, Tween Expert
  • Kate Brooks, award-winning photojournalist
  • F. Paul Wilson, best-selling novelist

How the True/Slant content model works: Contributors are given the tools to easily post original content they write, to capture headlines, links, and video from stories moving around the Internet that, based on their editorial and curatorial sensibility, they wish to serve up to the True/Slant community – always respecting the copyrights of original content creators. Once the contributors post on True/Slant, registered members of the True/Slant community can comment on the story, and differently from much of the current practice on news and aggregation sites, the contributors will actually participate in the conversation that follows, both by calling out comments whose points are particularly germane, or by engaging with the audience. All comments are posted – even those that impolitely disagree – but the contributor has the ability to cull the herd, and showcase the blue ribbon winners, the comments that provoke further discussion and spark debate.

The editorial sensibility of the True/Slant team is such that those posts that get the most reader response are the ones that will stick around longer, or get the most prominent placement. Readers – who should consider themselves part of the True/Slant community – may “follow” contributors they choose, and thus have their own slant on True/Slant. Interestingly, True/Slant’s contributors are encouraged to participate in each other’s posts by actively commenting.

How the True/Slant business model works: True/Slant presents sponsored links and sells targeted display advertising, generating some revenue even at this extreme early stage. The biggest innovation in True/Slant’s business model is the launch of T/S Ad Slant, clearly identified contributions in which marketers will use the exact same tools offered to contributors to build their own pages. Marketers may choose to post original content, to capture headlines and links and video and post them on their page, and importantly, to engage in a dialogue with members of the True/Slant community. No one will read a T/S Ad Slant page and fail to appreciate that this is “advertorial.” For marketers, being able to create content and post it in an environment with a lively and participating community, as well as to dynamically update it, is a unique opportunity.

How the True/Slant business model works for contributors: True/Slant redefines the publisher-contributor relationship. This is not the static employer-employee model. Some contributors seek a platform on which to build their brands. Others want to be the CEO of their brand. True/Slant enables contributors to help define varied financial terms and participation. As such, some contributors share in the revenue generated from their pages. Others earn stipends based on their editorial contributions or receive bonuses for achieving marketing milestones. Contributors may even participate by getting equity in True/Slant. Contributors who work hard to build an audience and succeed in doing so will be able to share in the fruits of their labor.

A quote from Lewis Dvorkin: “True/Slant is an original content news network tailored to both the Entrepreneurial 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. True/Slant is designed to be the Entrepreneurial Journalist’s digital home. Knowledgeable and credible contributors anchor and build their digital brands on True/Slant using tools that enable them to easily create content and craft stories filtered through human perspective (not an algorithm). Consumers have direct access to contributors they respect and follow. By commenting, along with contributors and each other, readers help create an authentic and ongoing dialogue around the news. Marketers express their corporate voice through the T/S Ad Slant using the same tools available to contributors. T/S Ad Slants are fully transparent, with marketer-created content clearly labeled to maintain the integrity of the conversation. Our goal is to build a community that is as engaged with the news as we are.”

Full List of Contributors: http://trueslant.com/contributor-index/

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=5980571&lang=en

Contacts

The Harbour Group
Noah Black, 202-295-8797
noah.black@harbourgrp.com

Contacts

The Harbour Group
Noah Black, 202-295-8797
noah.black@harbourgrp.com