Where’s the Trust?

We’re in search of a fresh revenue model for the news business.  It’s the digital age and everybody who has access to a computer can publish and distribute media for no cost.  True/Slant Alpha is touted as one new business model for journalism. 

I’m skeptical of the novel revenue model and the news site.  I looked around to see what others were writing about True Slant.  I searched for debate and I felt like I was an embedded reporter in the Iraq War.  All I can do is get shot at and tell the untruths the government wants.  The major lesson I learned covering wars as a reporter was all sides lie profusely.

I found only one article or author refusing to regurgitate Walt Mossberg’s advertisement-article for True/Slant.  Only The Industry Standard web site dared criticize Mossberg and the True Slant business model.

I was thoroughly unimpressed each time I’ve visited True/Slant.  I know it’s alpha but a slow start out of the gate makes for a tough finish in the race.  Story selection on the pages was bland IMHO.

The model has journalists as curators who write reports for their area of expertise and collect the work of others publishing in that subject area.  We used to call journalists covering a particular topic beat reporters and understood their expertise was journalism.  How do we maintain trust journalists must  garner if they become entrepreneurs concerned with ad revenue?

So strong is my belief in the separation of journalist from sales accountant (I worked in sales in technology, in full disclosure)  I refuse to even applaud when at the theater.  To clap my hands in approval shows deference and a good journalist always considers every opinion without public favor to any.

If marketers create advertising  like pages contributors/curators/knowledge experts (TS refers to journalists with all of those descriptions) how are readers to distinguish infomercial from unbiased news?  Marking the page “advertisement” like some publications is too little.  I believe too many people will miss the distinction.

Journalists writing for True/Slant are supposed to earn a stipend and percentage of advertising on their pages which I’ve taken to calling digests.  What becomes the journalists motivation – an informed audience or pleased advertiser?  I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Tomorrow Broadcast Newsroom Computing applauds Microsoft’s effort to educate the jobless and increase their market share simultaneously.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC



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