In recent years, many journalists (including myself) have experimented with web services intended to help journalism go online, and those efforts have failed.
We’d hoped that things like better newsroom software or local community sites would allow quality reporting to run efficiently and survive as web businesses. But these efforts were often top-down. Newsroom software tried to mirror the needs of the traditional newsroom, for example.
But newsroom software hasn’t thrived. Rather, the more successful software has bubbled up from beneath, in the form of blogging software — things like WordPress and Movable Type, along with RSS feed distribution services like Feedburner, and news aggregator sites like Digg and Techmeme.
So it’s with great interest that I talked to journalist/blogger Scott Karp last Friday, about the $2.75 million his company Publish2 has raised from Velocity Interactive Group, the new, digital media-focused venture firm.
Publish2 intends to be a sort of news aggregator that’s based on the stories that journalists — broadly defined to include bloggers — think are interesting, so not unlike Digg or Techmeme. It’s a social bookmarking site, where each user adds the links from news stories they find from around the web, like Delicious. It’s also a sort of journalism-profession networking service, where users can create their own professional profiles that includes link to their stories, that their peers (and potential employers) can check out.
The big idea is that the collective knowledge of all of these journalists will generate a high-quality collection of content, that will in turn lead to journalists becoming more informed, faster — and lead them to adopt best practices of online publishing, like linking to other sites’ articles.
Unfortunately, Karp is refusing to send beta invites to other bloggers and myself for the time being, so I can’t provide a full review. But from his description, there are various views that a user can see — the stories they themselves bookmark, the stories that people in their own newsroom are bookmarking, and the stories that everyone on the site is bookmarking. This will allow newsrooms to quickly see notable writings from other people. It may even lead to mainstream publications linking to other web sites, which is something they don’t do now due to old-fashioned competitive feelings — even though linking is an important component of engaging in conversation (and getting traffic) on the web.
Publish2, which has been in the works since last summer, will also include a component where each publication can include links to stories from other sites via Publish2 in a widget on its own page.
The company also plans to integrate into the wide, haphazard array of publishing software in use at news organization: from things like the open-source content management system Drupal, to the many aging proprietary software at newspapers around the world.
A big advantage the company has is its deep connections in the journalism world. Its board of directors includes Jeff Jarvis, another new media thinker with roots in established media, and other well-known journalists, along with Velocity’s Ross Levinsohn (who bought MySpace for News Corp while he was still with Fox) and Jonathan Miller (a former AOL executive).
The combination of bottom-up content paired with editorial sensibilities is intriguing to this reporter. I’m looking forward to getting the site’s invite.