NY Times, Washington Post, CNN Partner with Bloggers

Last Updated Sep 25, 2008 5:37 PM EDT

It seems almost like yesterday that we were reporting on the State of the Blogosphere, courtesy of Technorati's new report. (It was, in fact, the day before yesterday.) Meanwhile, new deals seem to be popping up everywhere between mainstream news companies and blogging networks.
As is to be expected , the tech and business blogs are the first ones to score these hook-ups, which represent the beginning of a massive merger between traditional publications and bloggers. The specifics of the nascent relationships will need fine-tuning for a while, in order to resolve issues such as how traffic is driven between the partners and how the ad revenue is split.

But the resulting two-tiered model of content sites is two-thirds of the way toward the vision expounded by yesterday's interview, CEO Chris Tolles of Topix. Tolles is building his business model around journalists, bloggers and comentarians. Most media websites allow users to comment these days, but few are entirely comfortable with the practice.

Part of the reason is that comments can easily attract trolls, flamers, and other gangs of mean-spirited posters. Then, there is the issue of obscene/offensive language. Companies try all sorts of methods to seed their commenting communities in the hope of establishing a higher quality user experience, but Tolles, for one, doesn't see the point.

"I don't care what people say, as long as they participate," he told me. "I'm amoral when it comes to that content. A successful community builds itself."

Though it will be hard for traditional media execs to accept this approach, ultimately it is necessary to loosen the controls if they want to foster a strong interactive community on their sites. Their initial deals with bloggers open the door to that third tier -- to every(wo)men -- that will be necessary for success in the new media reality.

  • David Weir

    David Weir is a veteran journalist who has worked at Rolling Stone, California, Mother Jones, Business 2.0, SunDance, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MyWire, 7x7, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which he cofounded in 1977. He’s also been a content executive at KQED, Wired Digital, Salon.com, and Excite@Home. David has published hundreds of articles and three books,including "Raising Hell: How the Center for Investigative Reporting Gets Its Story," and has been teaching journalism for more than 20 years at U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Stanford.