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True/Slant Builds Platform for Journalists, and for Brands

Growing Traffic for a Middle Ground Between Traditional Media and the 'Rush to the Bottom'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Remember True/Slant? One of a host of startups re-inventing journalism -- or at least the delivery of news and opinion -- True/Slant launched a year ago with backing from Forbes Media and Velocity Interactive Group and acclaim from Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg.

The True/Slant premise was to provide a platform for the "entrepreneurial journalist" as well as writers, bloggers, book authors, academics and other opinion leaders to distribute their work. Over the past year, the economics at legacy news organizations haven't gotten any better, meaning more and more journalists are facing a freelance, er, entrepreneurial professional existence.

Scale seems to be coming: True/Slant crossed 1 million unique visitors a month last December. For the economics, it has a revenue model that offers marketers a communications platform that's more than just traditional ads. Through Ad/Slant, marketers get a page, the same social tools and distribution as journalists, and the ability to have their own content alongside the news and opinion.

It's a different kind of advertorial, and paying corporate users can have as many as 40 authors contributing. As Edelman CEO Richard Edelman recently wrote: "The opportunity for us in PR is to work in both the free and paid sides of True/Slant. The advertorial can be the company's view on a set of issues, updated in real time. The reader community's participation is enhanced with links and cross-references to bloggers or journalists in mainstream media."

On the edit side, not everyone can become a True/Slant journalism entrepreneur. The network has 301 curated contributors today including big names like Rolling Stone political writer Matt Taibbi and photographer/blogger Susannah Breslin. Some of True/Slant's biggest names received equity in the company; all have a revenue-sharing agreement on ad sales and traffic incentives.

True/Slant was founded by Lewis Dvorkin, an editor who spent a career in the top echelons of the news business -- at outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes and Newsweek -- then spent much of the early part of the last decade running AOL News. Indeed, True/Slant isn't too dissimilar in philosophy from AOL's current strategy, content at scale but under different economics.

Mr. Dvorkin is an interesting guy and big thinker on the future of news. Here's an interview we recorded with him recently:

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