True/Slant, mixing content and commerce?

True/Slant is a new web site that looks nice and clean and may have some interesting new ideas on how to make money. It isn’t clear yet. But it is experimenting with reducing the divide between editorial and advertising, something that has historically been considered heretical but is now inevitable (like a lot of things, actually).

“True/Slant will run regular Web ads throughout,” says the WSJ. “But, in a highly unusual move, the site plans to offer advertisers their own entire pages where they can run blogs and try to attract a network of followers. These will have the same design and features of the journalists’ pages, but will be labeled as ad content.”

“The journalists are paid a small amount, but the plan is to turn them into minipublishers under the True/Slant umbrella. They will be offered a share of the advertising and sponsorship revenues their individual pages generate and, in some cases, equity in True/Slant, which is backed by venture capital.”

The site itself says that “True/Slant is an original content news network tailored to both the “New Journalist” and marketers who want a more effective way to engage with digital audiences.  Contributors, consumers and marketers each have a voice on True/Slant.”

“Marketers express their corporate voice through the T/S Ad Slant using the  same tools available to contributors.  T/S Ad Slants are fully transparent, with marketer-created content clearly labeled to maintain the integrity of the conversation.”

It has other zeitgeisty aspects, too. “In another unusual move, the contributors also are required to actively engage with readers on the site,” says Cyberjournalist. “They must post a minimum number of comments in reader discussions about their articles and curate the comments, giving prominence to the most interesting. They are even expected to comment on each other’s posts. This required engagement is an attempt to capture some of the excitement of a social network, and it ties in directly with a contributor’s success.

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