The newsroom finally has a place on Reddit.
Reporters and publications have long lurked around the internet's so-called front page, looking for underreported stories and a place to put links to their own. Because one of Reddit's top rules is no self-promotion, they've mostly been considered spammers. But now a select few media partners have been given a pass.
The Washington Post is one of the first publishers to get a new profile page on Reddit, where it can freely post its own stories, ask me anything Q&As and all the dank memes it wants. Advance Local's Alabama site AL.com has a Reddit profile too, with a page for sibling NOLA.com in the works.
Reddit has been working with the publishing industry to become another digital distribution point, much like Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, according to Alex Riccomini, Reddit's director of business development and media partnerships. But it also wants publishers to respect its unique web culture.
"We are helping support publishers, providing them with the tools to communicate clearly and easily without disrupting the flow of communities," Riccomini said.
Profiles will eventually roll out to all members of the site, but they are particularly geared toward content creators, whether they're a publisher or an artist. The profiles let the creators post to their personal pages and generate followers.
Publishers and Reddit said the profiles don't present any opportunities for direct revenue such as ad sales, but media partners would of course welcome any traffic lift that comes.
"It was hard for us as a brand before to participate in Reddit," said Ryan Kellett, director of audience development at The Washington Post. "Previously, it was hard to have a centralized presence, and this gives us a home to try some new things out and develop a voice. Meet readers where they are."
Reddit is a community of sub-communities, subreddits, to which people subscribe. A subreddit can be about obscure political parties, for example, or local news, world news, niche hobbies, funny photos, dogs, cats or GIFs. The most popular ones have become part of internet culture, such as the AMA, which stands for ask me anything and invites people into crowdsourced interviews.
It can be a powerful traffic driver to websites, and when a story lights up on the site it is pretty much guaranteed to resonate across the internet.
Reddit said it is in talks with more publishers to ease them onto the platform. The publishers said they are being introduced to the user-controlled subreddits, meeting the moderators of the communities and trying to make a good first impression.
"The voice we will use on Reddit is a little bit different from the one we use on Facebook or Twitter," Kellett said.
The Post's audience development team, which also handles its editorial presence on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and other platforms, will now include Reddit in the strategy. So far, it has shared newsroom photos and hosted an ask-me-anything session with the seven-person team that will be most active on Reddit, headed by Gene Park, the social media editor, who has the honor of controlling the username: Washingtonpost.
Going forward, the Post is thinking about how to create Reddit content that will travel farthest in that kind of setting, and it's even open to memes. It missed an opportunity when a Post reporter, Ashley Parker, became a meme herself for her expressive eyebrows during a recent White House press briefing, Kellett said. That was before it had a profile last week.
"We love the potential to have awesome discussions around certain images and GIFs," Kellett said.
AL.com is thinking about similar conversation starters, according to Michelle Holmes, VP of content at Alabama Media Group.
"[As a publisher] we talk about engagement and interaction but it's baked into Reddit," Holmes said.
The site covers the whole state of Alabama, and sees Reddit as palace to reach a far wider audience. The publisher made it to Reddit's frontpage with an AMA with its "weird news" reporter, who covers asylums and Bigfoot.
AL.com will experiment with posting older stories, too, digging up content that doesn't have an expiration date and could find new life.
"Brands can be active participants in the community without destroying the fabric or Reddit," Holmes said.