It seemed counter-intuitive to most journalists: link to your competitor’s content — in this case tech and business news from the San Francisco Chronicle (where I had worked for 11 years), as well as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post and others.
“News around the web” was a hit. In fact, the recent college graduate whom we hired to place the hyperlinks became a “power broker.” Many of the newspapers called him up, asking for a link to their stories.
We found that we didn’t lose traffic to them. To the contrary, CNET became a “portal.” It has since been acquired by CBS for nearly $2 billion.
For their part, newspapers have been slow to adapt to the Web, worrying about “cannibalizing” their print product. They have been reluctant to link to other websites and blogs. They have been “newsosaurs.”
In short, sacbee.com is building a network of blogs and sites “handpicked by Bee editors for their consistent quality,” as Bee editors explain, including this one — “Jeff Pelline’s Sierra Foothills Report.”
The idea of Sacramento Connect: connecting the best blogs and sites with one toolbar — on sacbee.com and the sites themselves.
Bee editors narrowed down their list to about 200 blogs and sites and reached out to about 25 to create the network. We’ve had some collaborative meetings. They hope to slowly grow the network over time.
“As we started paying attention to Pelline’s blog, we noticed he was on top of news in the foothills,” wrote the Bee’s editors in complimentary fashion. “We certainly took notice when he scooped The Bee a couple times on stories. Our only consolation was that Jeff also scooped all California newspapers and other local media outlets.”
Your thoughtful reader comments on this blog also have been invaluable — creating an online community. Signing your comments adds credibility to the discussion. In some cases, it has led to “meet-ups” in local coffee shops where people who disagree can search for common ground. Polarization is a big problem in our small community — and across the nation.
Another blog The Bee found intriguing was Girls on the Grid, which describes itself as a “lifestyle blog focused on the daily lives of professional women in Sacramento.” The Bee will tie blogs like mine and Girls on the Grid with dozens of others.
The toolbar will appear across every page of sacbee.com, as well as partner sites and blogs. Whenever readers click a page, story, photo or video, the toolbar will display any related content from across the network of content-linking partners.
There’s no talk right now of “monetizing” the blog content. But down the road, you could envision an ad revenue sharing deal. Last month, I alluded to McClatchy’s plans here.
“At the moment McClatchy is not sharing revenue with these bloggers but plans to at some point in the future,” the executive said.
The Bee is not being thinned skinned. One example: The editors read my post about the “McClatchy-watch” blog, not exactly a business boosterism site.
Networks such as Sacramento Connect are the future of newspaper journalism, because the Internet has broken down the monopolies of distribution. “Content is king.” You will see other newspapers following suit, too — or they will remain “newsosaurs.”