Part of the Web, not just on the Web

B (Baltimore Sun) launched last week and a bunch of new Examiner sites in the process of launching in cities where the Examiner doesn't (yet?) publish in print. They share a webby characteristic that's radically different from the typical newspaper: They link. To the competition. Like crazy.

B is the new free youth-targeted daily newspaper. is the website that accompanies it, and it's built entirely around group blogging. They're linking to WBAL, the Baltimore Examiner, the Washington Post, a couple of community organizations, Sports Illustrated and the mothership Baltimore Sun.

Travis Henry, former YourHub editor who jumped ship to the Examiner, sent me a link to the Denver Examiner site. When I looked the lead item was a summary/link directly to the Denver Post. Other headlines link to the Rocky and local TV stations, as well as to Examiner content. National headlines link directly to Fox News and ABC.

How refreshingly nonparanoid! It reminds me of this quote from Peter Gabriel that I stumbled across in a link someone (I forget who) posted to Facebook:

"My friend Brian Eno has been going on for some time about the increasingly important role of the curator over the creator."

What's he talking about? Here's another way of putting it: Context creates value. And another way: Loyalty accrues to the place that helps you find things, not necessarily the place that produces things.



When we were thinking about what should be, we decided that the right companion to a free sheet would be a web publication that could stand on its own, a web publication that wasn't shoveled full of content from the paper and a web publication that actually drives a lot of the content that winds up in print.

So the natural landing place was a blog. In our minds, a great blog about Baltimore. And that's what we're working to build with

Central to our site philosophy is the belief that the audience we hope to reach is extremely comfortable with multiple sources for news and information. So we built to highlight a diversity of web voices - ours and others. We have our own staff bloggers and Metromix content, but we also feature the work of other local Baltimore bloggers and, in our left rail, host a constantly-updating and customizable "river of news" from all local news sources (to use Dave Winer's phrase), including places we would traditionally think of as competitors. Because, as I keep reminding our staff, they're going to go there anyway. Or, as you put it so well, loyalty accrues to the place that helps you find things.

And finally, we plug into some of the most popular web tools for social content - YouTube, Vimeo and Revver for video and flickr for photos - because that's where the best content is already being created and posted.

We’ve still got a long way to go – especially in mobile, which had to take a back seat for a short bit so we could make our launch date – but I'd like to think it’s a pretty good start.

Tim Windsor
Baltimore Sun Media Group, Interactive

That's really an excellent insight, Steve! If you were to make a case for it, in an effort to 'prove' it, do you have any data that backs it up? Could you point me to it, or help me think of some excellent examples that might even be potential case studies? Thanks in advance for any extra info you can provide.

The elephant in the room would be Google, which produces no content, only context.

good for them. Finally we have some more people who understand that niceness, in this case being nice to competitors, is generally good business practice. They will link back to you most likely, and they will be known as a nice, compassionate, business.