I’d like to welcome you to yet another blog by me, my favorite person you’ve never heard of – this blog isn’t likely to be anything more than a short-term project to function as a portfolio piece in an effort to secure gainful employment in the news/media industry.
The basic model will follow the apparent business model of Glenn Beck‘s newest website The Blaze. Their business model appears to be based on sourcing news items from various internet websites, writing a small summation/intro to the piece, and an area for comments independent of any the original news source might offer. There appear to be a few major elements that warrant further discussion, the selection of topics, the inclusion of connecting the current story to related stories, and the building of community around the new web site, not the news source.
The main editorial decisions are in what to cover/what not to cover – there are countless stories, and once you filter out the merely true stories from the fantastical conspiracy theories and simply bad reporting, you are still left with too many stories for any one web site. The imposition of an editorial voice, limiting the range of stories to certain topics, will develop a point-of-view (or slant) that is unavoidable – all an editor can do is make an effort to include other points of view, but in the end a point of view will emerge. The Blaze has a point of view that is, to be kind, critical of politicians and government in general, based on the historical performance of both groups (they’ve earned it), but it also includes coverage of Glenn Beck in the mainstream media.
Another real value such a site can provide is the inclusion of other related stories, reminding the reader of what has led up to the current story, what the background information is, and when appropriate, links to actual bills, news footage, etc. Context aids the reader in understanding the piece under discussion, but it also has the ability to skew the piece, again, based on what is and is not included – an effort must be made to be consistent and comprehensive, anything less will relegate the site to nothing more than a partisan echo chamber.
Finally, the master stroke is the comments section on each piece. One of the major failings of the Drudge Report (in my opinion) is the lack of community. Through editorial selection the Drudge Report expresses a certain point of view, but visiting the Drudge Report is a very transitory experience – there are millions that refer to the site on a daily basis, but the site contians little more than links to elsewhere – it isn’t very sticky (in web terms)… Were each link on the Drudge Report were to have a simple “comment” link after each story heading it would become a monster overnight. Of course, this presumes that Matt Drudge has an interest in providing a forum for the sharing of ideas, not just links to stories he sees as important. I assume I am not the first to make such a suggestion, and I have to imagine that Matt Drudge has considered such an idea, but his site garners millions of hits per month, I assume it is profitable, and with minimal overhead.
I honestly believe that The Blaze will evolve as they ramp-up (you have to walk before you can run, and they just went live a week or two ago), but these are the major ideas behind their website, and that is the model I am attempting to emulate, albeit briefly (two weeks?).