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We’re throwing a party next Thursday, May 1, to celebrate the introduction of our digital media team and forthcoming blog, and our overall growth as a company.

We’ve invited friends who are investors, entrepreneurs, fellow reporters — both in the Silicon Valley tech scene and from other media companies — and we have some tickets to hand out to readers.

The party will be held at classy, vintage lounge The Ambassador in San Francisco, from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. We also have some special guests attending. The cofounders of online competition site IBeatYou — Abdul Khan, Cash Warren and Warriors basketball star Baron Davis — will be making an announcement.

If you’d like to come, please send me an email (eric at venturebeat dot com)… and here’s the catch. When dishing out tickets, we’ll give special consideration to those who provide input on how we can expand our focus on digital media in order to serve you better.

We’re looking at moving from having just a “digital media” category and tab (see the top of this page), to creating a stand-alone publication. We’d like your input on what you think we should cover, because digital media encompasses a lot of things and the digital media team members — Dean “The Machine” Takahashi, MG “Machine Gun” Siegler and myself — have a wide range of interests.

Why the focus on digital media?

Record labels, newspapers, movie studios and other traditional media companies are going through major disruption. Among other things, they’re grappling with the expectation that everything online should be free. What is creative content worth on the web? Anything? As media companies try to answer this question and find sustainable online business models, we’re going to be on the front lines, reporting about how they manage.

The ironic thing is, the companies that are taking the attention of millions away from traditional media are themselves struggling to monetize — social networks like Facebook, video sites like YouTube and many others are not yet very profitable.

At VentureBeat, we’ve found ourselves in the middle of this media flux (and not just because we’re reporters who publish only online). We’ve covered the most formative new media companies from birth through investment rounds, product launches, and in some cases, purchases.

We’re looking at how to connect our understanding of Silicon Valley companies with the efforts of technologists, businesspeople and talented creators in other media industries.

In turn, we also hope to help entrepreneurs better understand where the opportunities are in online media — opportunities they may not hear about within the Valley’s echo chamber.

We’ll deepen our coverage of web companies, mobile companies, gaming companies, online advertising companies. We’ll look at innovative startups, but also innovative traditional media companies. We’ll go beyond covering investments and engage in significant analysis of the news in digital media.

This is a work in progress. So send me those emails about coming to the party — and about how to improve. Feel free to critique our efforts so far, and help us to make this new site a valuable place for you to spend your time.

We’d also like to thank our sponsors for their generous help in putting on this event, including:

Gold Sponsors: O’Melveny & Meyers, Mohr Davidow Ventures
Silver Sponsor: Sun Microsystems
Event Sponsor: SparkPR

[Photo by Digon3, via Wikimedia]

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