The Guardian newspaper announced today that it is open to partnering media and technology bloggers in a content sharing deal. There are a couple of options. The first is non-commercial,
One is a non-commercial content-sharing arrangement, swapping, say, one or two stories a week. A partner blog runs independently, but the Guardian has the right to republish on guardian.co.uk chosen articles on our site up to the swap limit. Bloggers can republish the same number of Guardian articles in return. link
To my mind this first option misses the whole point of the web.
There's little to no point republishing something from a blog, in it's entirety, on another site.
Picking out threads of conversation, linking to those threads, adding context, opinion and further insight – which The Guardian is often extremely good at is where the value for the readers is.
Republishing a la cut and paste robot – well, it's just a bit crappy and smacks of desperation for audience grab on The Guardian's part.
After all, the Graun is only interested in "five figure" bloggers. They don't want any old tat. And, having been a five figure blogger, at least for a while, I simply don't think I would need The Guardian to throw me chicken feed.
As for being allowed to re-publish Guardian articles in their entirety on my own blog… Why would I ever want to do that? If my blog is a five figure blog, it's a five figure blog exactly because I provide original insight, thoughts and wotnot that people want to link to and discuss. I doubt many five figure bloggers are cut and paste merchants.
And, one other thing. What's to stop me cutting and pasting Guardian articles willy-nilly anyway?
Then, there's the second option,
There's a second more commercial possibility, where the Guardian (acting in the fashion of an ad network like Glam Media) maybe able to sell advertising for bloggers' sites. Again, blog sites continue to host themselves and retain editorial control. However, by forming a network, each site is able to achieve higher advertising rates than they would alone. Anybody who has relied on Google Ad Sense for income will know exactly how disappointing selling ads that way can be. There may be other possibilities in the future. We may also be able to host some bloggers on the guardian.co.uk site
So maybe you'll make some cash, maybe not. Maybe there'll be some other possibilities somewhere down the line, maybe not. Maybe you move your blog to The Guardian, maybe not. Maybe, there's not a whole lot of a plan here. Maybe, this is another half-baked Guardian experiment that'll soon get canned when the commercials don't add up.
Look, this isn't the first time this has been attempted. Asia Correspondent does much the same thing in, what appears to be a more professional manner, with it's hybridnews model. Then there's AOL-pwned Huffington Post… But, The Huffington Post this maybe-maybe model is not.
In addition, I'm not sure The Guardian will really be able to emulate what a five figure blogger can probably do on their own, if it's advertising dollars they're after.
I happily used BlogAds for a couple years – earned around US$2,000 or more in a good year as I remember. And I've used Google Adsense, with similar results, at least in 2006. Will The Guardian really be able to pay $4,000 ++ per year, per blogger through networked ad revenue on a maybe-maybe business model? I seriously doubt it.
I'm not sure padding out a newspaper website with borrowed content is the way to go for a serious publication trying to break even. This smacks of an audience numbers game. Maybe the Daily Mail's online rise and rise has given them the willies.
Guardian.co.uk also deserves plaudits for being the world's fifth most popular online newspaper. It too has a strong presence in the United States. Its problem is that The Guardian is losing a great deal of money, and its circulation has been slipping, so that Guardian.co.uk's editorial prowess is somewhat overshadowed by the financial difficulties of the mother ship. link