VARIATIONS ON A THEME(STREAM)

By: Jason Williams

Community Publishing Site Seeks Special-Interest Content





from this week’s Editor & Publisher magazine:



by Jason Williams



So, you’re a technology writer – gadgets and gizmos, Web sites and e-commerce are your line. But maybe if you had it all to do over again, you’d be a rock columnist or sports reporter or Dear Abby.



Where can you go to make those daydreams a reality? The Web, of course.



Themestream, a community publishing site that launched last week, seeks to create a community of writers and consumers based around personal interests or hobbies. Founded by Netscape and Excite veterans, Themestream is a personalized information resource that organizes articles – submitted by users and aggregated from Themestream affiliates – around specific interests. Themestream also will offer contextual e-commerce “gear” relating to specific interests.



For example, boating enthusiasts can sign up for a weekly e-mail update or create a MyThemes Page, each of which lists links and summaries of boating-related Themestream articles, organized by audience ratings from best to worst. And you don’t have to be an expert or even a journalist to publish your story on Themestream. All submissions that meet its general guidelines are accepted, and authors will be paid 10 cents per article view during Themestream’s promotional period.



“We want to be really author-friendly,” says Trish Hayward, vice president of marketing for Themestream, adding that it doesn’t own any copyrights over the articles.



Themestream is seeking partnerships with publishers, celebrity writers, and journalists – along with John and Jane Q. Public – to add quality content and grow its audience. Among its partners are Simon & Schuster, Homestead, Octopus.com, Wine Lover’s Page, Boats.com, and several other niche content providers.



“By connecting consumers who are passionate about their interests with others who want to share their knowledge and expertise,” says Bill Turpin, founder and CEO, “Themestream has created a model that truly leverages content and community.”



Content and community? Sound familiar? But Themestream’s Hayward says it has no designs on replacing newspapers and welcomes co-branded partnerships with papers for their opinion and commentary content.



“We’re not talking about newsy stuff,” says Hayward. “We’re more interested in mostly commentary, features, and opinion” – the “second-tier” communication that revolves around interests and hobbies, she says.



Themestream’s relationships with content providers and merchants include directing traffic to the affiliates’ sites and co-branding any articles submitted by publishers. Themestream also maintains a relationship with Netscape’s comprehensive Open Directory to provide additional links to related sites.



Themestream’s publisher model suits magazines and perhaps alternative papers better than daily newspapers, but could provide an outlet for that business journalist who’s always wanted to write about fly fishing or opera.



Themestream also could serve as a recruiting center for newspapers. Journalism-school graduates and others can use the create-a-portfolio feature to build up their clips and provide real data as to the audience interest in their work.



Themestream had been operating its site on a limited basis before last week’s official launch, and boasts 3,500 contributing authors and approximately 20,000 articles.



One author, David Bulley, received two job offers while posting his articles during the pre-launch period. Bulley says that when contacting publishers for assignments he refers them to his Themestream portfolio.





Related story:

EXPRESS YOURSELF (02/25/00)





Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher.

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