Monday, December 7, 2009

MinnPost review

As someone who is obsessed with the current state of the newspaper industry -- or, more accurately, as someone who is having a full-blown existential crisis about the future of my profession -- I am fascinated with this site, which offers a new model for journalism.

I am intrigued at the mix of non-profit and private funding, and at the upfront solicitation for donations and the "shout out" to doners on the home page. The site is very transparent -- names of doners, dollar amounts, and lots of personal information about everyone involved with the site -- not just the writers. These bios were all presented in first person and went well beyond the traditional format to include details like family and even religious affiliations.

This site was more "blog" than the previous sites I evaluated, in that it was much more subjective. The credibility came from well-defined "real" personalities -- people who introduce themselves at length in the "about" section and whose pictures we can study, but who essentially produce opinion pieces about current events rather than offering a straightforward news account.

The site seems to be trying hard to make a very personal connection to its readers, by devoting so much energy to introducing its contributors.

But some of these contributors have a vested interest in seeing the site succeed as they are also shareholders, and I wonder how this impacts their decisions about what to write about. But they are taking a huge gamble on the future of the news industry and you have to hand it to them for that -- at least they are trying something and not wringing their hands!

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