Business Impact

Forbes buying online news startup True/Slant

NEW YORK (AP) – Forbes Media is buying the online news startup True/Slant, marrying two companies with vastly different approaches to journalism and publishing.

Lewis Dvorkin, who founded True/Slant and was once an editor at Forbes magazine, announced the deal in a blog post Tuesday. He didn’t say how much Forbes is paying.

The deal signals a new approach to the Web for Forbes, which will get an online makeover with help from the True/Slant team.

True/Slant, which started about a year ago, seeks to offer a launch pad for individual writers to build followings around their work. It began with about 100 freelance writers posting bits of news and opinion. A few of the contributors came from established news brands including CNN, Rolling Stone and Newsweek.

Dvorkin said the site now has at least 300 people writing for it. Traffic to the site has grown from 90,000 unique visitors in the U.S. last June to 335,000 last month, according to comScore.

True/Slant diverges from most traditional publishers in allowing advertisers to have their own separate pages on the site, besides regular display ads. And its contributors can earn bonuses depending on the amount of traffic they draw.

The whole concept is built around the journalist as entrepreneur – a “brand of one” as Dvorkin put it in an interview last year.

Forbes, founded in 1917, is with most traditional magazines in standing more on the reputation of its overarching brand than its individual reporters.

As with most traditional media, the business and finance magazine enforces a strict division between its editorial and advertising departments to prevent the appearance of any conflict of interest.

But keeping the two completely separate is starting to look like an anachronism in the digital age. Bloggers are often judged by how many hits a given post draws, a measure that is tied directly to how much advertisers are charged to run promotions on the site.

In buying True/Slant, Forbes is lending its imprimatur – at least in part – to some of the new ideas the site has pioneered.

In an interview Tuesday, Dvorkin said the five-person management of True/Slant will help Forbes redesign its website along the lines of True/Slant.com

He said True/Slant will remain a standalone site through June, but there have been no decisions about whether or not to keep it going on its own.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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