True/Slant gets funky with the ad integration

If Facebook, Digg and The New York Times had a drunken ménage à trois, their lovechild might look like True/Slant, a new web journalism model lauded in a puff piece by Walt Mossberg of WSJ.com. The concept is simple: Journalists write; readers comment to push up articles and their own personal fame; and advertisers get to write their own pages, too. The site is heavy-up with skilled authors formerly of NYT, Financial Times and Rolling Stone, but it’s the ad integration that has Walt Mossberg buzzing.

Walt notes: “In a highly unusual move, the site plans to offer advertisers their own entire pages where they can run blogs and try to attract a network of followers. These will have the same design and features of the journalists’ pages, but will be labeled as ad content.” It’s actually brilliant integration — the ad content looks the same with the heft as the real articles, but the clear distinction — both in labeling and in author — prevents the gray shadiness that creeps into blogs that are paid posts. True/Slant keeps the journalists separate, but as their individual rankings rise, they get a cut of the advertising they attract — thus they are inspired to write better authentic content, which in turn will attract more eyeballs and clearly defined advertisers.

We like it. Now if only someone would clean up the layout.

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