Friday, October 29, 2004

Setting Up Shop: A Guide to Independent Journalism Shows the Pitfalls Along with Promise

It's interesting to read the USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review piece on how journalists can set up independently for profit. Pull up a weblogging tool, hang out your shingle, stuff in some Google AdSense ads and you're in business, right? Well, not quite. There are the small matters of a liveable income, marketing, libel insurance, incorporation, supplementary revenue strategies - the usual headaches that a small business owner faces. Services such as Jason Calacanis' Weblogs, Inc. have become more sophisticated in nurturing a wide array of business-oriented weblogs, taking a piece of the indie's hide in the process but developing for them a sophisticated revenue-generating publishing platform and editorial support system that lets them have the independent lifestyle without some of the hassles - kind of a cross between VerticalNet, VNU and ECNext, if you will. The level of overall infrastructure available to webloggers is improving dramatically as of late, so it's not clear that a Weblogs, Inc. approach is really necessary for independent journalism voices to succeed in the long run. It's also not clear that there's enough focus on quality B2B content beyond the obvious Silicon Valley/Alley players on Weblogs, Inc. to make this a place for a widespread approach to supporting independent B2B journalism. To be a true Newsmaster requires some in-depth understanding of your subject matter, understanding that goes beyond the typical dot-com 2.0 attitudes exhibited by most weblog "experts". In the independent content game, there will be a mixture of those who can best enable the technology and ecommerce aspects of content distribution from independents and those who can best provide editorial endorsement and guidance to those independents. The two need not necessarily be the same to succeed, though. Zagats for weblogs, anyone?
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