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The future for news?

By March 20, 2009 5 Comments

This morning I discovered Zimbio the second fastest growing ‘member community destination’. Hat tip to cnet and Nielsen.

Zimbio is a content site that mixes UGC and professionally produced content, using proprietary technology to filter and classify stories and help users find relevant content.  In their own words:

Zimbio seamlessly blends the best of traditional media, participatory journalism, and proprietary technology. Stories and rich media from traditional news sources live along side blogs, commentary and opinion articles written or posted by readers’ peers in a new media platform, the wikizine — an interactive magazine that anyone can create or edit.

You could think of this as a kind of wikipedia for current afairs.

And it is startlingly successful.  They have 15m uniques up from 6m in July and most startups would kill for this Alexa chart, current rank 494. (For some reason the embed code won’t work so you need to click on the link to see the chart).

We see evidence every day that the old models for news aren’t working.  This model retains some professioanl journalism, but (I assume) will have radically lower costs due to the UGC component, plus the consumers get to participate much more giving them a richer experience.

This mix of technology, editorial (I would guess), professional contribution, UGC and mass collaboration might have legs.  I have no idea what the finances of this business look like (it has had one $7m round of venture which I have just discovered is from one of our sister funds) – but if the monetisation works out OK this could be a model for the future.