The search for a new business model to generate high-quality journalism in the digital age continues. A new offering, True/Slant, proposes to test a dynamic of social media, individual expertise, advertising-as-content, and regular journalism in its model.
True/Slant is the creation of a former AOL and Wall Street Journal journalist. It provides ad-supported pages to more than 60 "knowledge experts" and compels them to write regularly and interact with those who comment as part of their social network. They also link to what they're reading, post on each other's posts, and carry on a community inside the site. The writing is pretty strong in the early going --- the experts are, in fact, experts --- and there's a lively banter about the place.
But True/Slant also provides stand-alone pages to advertisers and permits them to run blogs and content based on their own interests. This part of the site is the most controversial, and if there is a real test of the conditions under which digital journalism can and can't work, it's there.
The page owners are mini-publishers in this model and will share in revenues, even in equity.
Without a subscription fee, the challenge appears enormous, but the ad-driven pages might prove a strong revenue source, so it would be unwise to dismiss the True/Slant model without giving it time.