YC's NewsTilt Aims To Help Journalists Create A Business Model For Content

The business and content models behind news have been changing dramatically over the past few years; with the mechanisms by which journalists interact with their audiences constantly transforming along the way. Y Combinator- backed NewsLabs is launching a platform, called NewsTilt, that will help aim to help journalists adapt the future of online news. The platform will officially launch tomorrow.

NewsLab’s co-founder Paul Biggar, believes that the future of journalism is around the niche brands that are created by the journalists and writers themselves. NewsTilt is essentially a content network and community based around news and professional journalists. Journalists can apply to create a branded niche news site on NewsTilt, and if accepted, NewsLab will completely automate and develop a site for the writer, from the design and content management system of the site to operating SEO and advertising.

NewsTilt will host the various micro-news sites on their own network, and will syndicate all content, power social media integration and even link between sites that its hosts when appropriate. Journalists will be able to select their own domain as well. NewsTilt also wants to create a vibrant community around the news sites on its network and will require its audience and visitors to sign in with Facebook Connect. Journalists on the other hand, will be encouraged to participate in the conversation with the community by sharing story ideas with their audience.

In turn for basically powering the business model and technology for journalists, NewsTilt will take a 20 percent cut of revenue from ads on the site, using Google AdSense (which Biggar says is a temporary advertising platform for now).

The site is currently accepting applications from journalists who want to start a news site on NewsTilt, and is being extremely selective with which journalists are accepted NewsTilt has assembled a seasoned editorial team in place to oversee the operation, headed by Jon Margolis, former chief National Political Correspondent for the Chicago Tribune.

So far, the startup has only selected 30 professional journalists out of 150 who’ve applied, and each applicant goes through a rigorous screening to ensure that any content they create is both well-written and has editorial quality. The accepted journalists will write from all over the world, including the U.S., China, and Turkey, and will be reporting on a number of niche topics including technology, news in Iran, business travel and more.

Biggar is quick to emphasize that NewsTilt is in no way a content farm like others in the space who have a similar model, such as Demand Media. NewsTilt, says Biggar, is first and foremost a news site and its journalists are professional with considerable experience in mainstream media. And NewsTilt aims to pay journalists fairly and equitably with the aim of creating insightful and professional editorial news content.

For many print journalists that find themselves perhaps out of a job or are looking to enter the entrepreneurial side of things with their own news sites, NewsTilt is a really compelling platform. Especially when you consider that the site develops and operates all of the business and advertising side of the publishing model, and allows writers to keep most of the money they make. Plus, writers pretty much have the autonomy to write about whatever they want. I have a feeling we’ll be hearing more from NewsTilt in the future.