The Guardian plans to create a new network of tech and media blogs. According to the newspaper’s head of media and technology Dan Sabbagh, this new network would work with two very distinct models. The first is a non-commercial agreement that will allow the Guardian to republish articles from the blogs in its network. In return, these blogs will be allowed to republish Guardian articles on their sites as well (up to the swap limit). In addition to this, the Guardian also plans a commercial offering where the organization would also sell ads for some of the blogs in its network (or even host the sites outright and share revenue).
As Sabbagh puts it, the Guardian doesn’t want to replicate the closed paywall model of Rupert Murdoch’s sites and the “traditional newspaper model, where editorial control comes from the top down, where the content is produced by a narrow group of professionals and the readership is similarly elitist.” What the Guardian strives for instead, says Sabbagh, is an “open approach” where there are “no barriers for readers, which encourages mass audiences.”
The non-commercial content-sharing agreement would allow bloggers in the Guardian’s network to republish one newspaper for every article the paper chooses to publish on its site. Writers will also get the SEO benefits of links from the Guardian and name recognition. Unlike the Huffington Post model, this concept relies on what feels like a relatively fair form of sharing (the Guardian keeps the upper hand, though – after all, the paper won’t publish one of your articles in return for every post you copy from it).
A Farm League for the Guardian?
It’s clear, though, that the Guardian also sees this model as a form of farm league for bringing individual bloggers into its own stable in the long run. Sabbagh only hints at this in his announcement, but the idea that the paper could host some bloggers on the papers site clearly points in this direction.
Other papers, including the New York Times, currently have syndication agreements with large tech blogs like ReadWriteWeb, VentureBeat, GigaOm and TechCrunch. None of these agreements allow the blogs to republish any content from the newspaper sites, though.
The Guardian encourages bloggers with “healthy traffic (five figures at least)” who would like to join this program to email [email protected] with “a link to the site, some details about who you are and what you do, and some traffic information.”