I’ve written before here about the newish online publication Inside Story, which is produced out of the Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University. (Declaration: I write for it, and am employed part time at the ISR).

Inside Story is an interesting example of what can be done now the barriers to entry in the media game have been lowered. The publication was put together by its founder, Peter Browne, using WordPress blogging software. It pays for contributions, as well as tapping in to the pool of academics who can write. Note declaration above, but I think it is publishing some quality stuff.

Now mainstream media is getting in on the act. The Saturday after next Inside Story will begin a partnership with the Canberra Times. that will see it gain a print presence. Each week the CT will publish a double page spread in the Forum section made up with Inside Story copy – one long piece or two shorter pieces.

Why is it so? For a new publication like Inside Story the overwhelming benefit is exposure. For the Canberra Times I guess it must be access to cheap quality copy at a time of straightened resources. We could be cynical about this – but more optimistically it is certainly a sign of the times for new media start-ups to be leading the way to quality content, rather than merely chasing after  and cannibalising Big Media.

Browne tells me that the copy to be run will be chosen by him in consultation with the editorial team at the Canberra Times.

Obviously somewhere along the line someone is going to have to pay if the quality of the content is to be sustained. Will it be Universities? (See my previous post about endowment journalism)? Or will Inside Story become a sustainable not-for-profit in its own right?

Browne says the publication is getting around 20,000 page impressions a month, and rising. Not bad for something that is only a few months old and concentrates entirely on high-end, worthy pieces. It will need more to earn significant advertising dollars, methinks.

But in the meantime the new media/old media partnership is significant, and worth watching.

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