The reader decides

NewsTilt, a new content platform recently introduced by NewsLabs, was recently profiled in TechCrunch.

The folks at TechCrunch describe NewsTilt as “the new model of journalism … centered around the journalist. NewsTilt creates individual branding for individual journalists.” The venture is expected to be ad-supported, with the initial revenues derived from Google Adsense.

I like new models for creating and distributing paid content, and I’m looking forward to the results of this fledgling effort. That said, I worry that the “new model of journalism” continues to look and feel like the old, production-driven model, without those pesky editors and publishers.

Much of what I’ve read about NewsTilt and related efforts (Poynter Institute, for example) emphasizes the need for “quality journalism”. It’s something I look for as well.

But “brand-name” journalists are not the same as quality journalism, and (vitally in this context) we’ve entered an era in which the reader decides what content to consume, and how. Focusing on who makes the content works only to the extent that the consumer cares.

This is a continuation of the “lean consumption” argument that has popped up from time to time here. I’m not arguing that branded journalists don’t matter, but the branded, supply-side model hasn’t rescued the New York Times in this digital age. I’m not convinced it carries the day for NewsTilt, either.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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