Global Post looks to engage bloggers

January 8, 2009

Global Post, a new online news agency, is set to launch on Monday, January 12. The site claims it has 60+ foreign correspondents ready to report from 40+ countries in text, pictures and video. They plan to begin by trying to answer the question: “What does Obama mean to the World?” Charles Sennott, a Frontline Club member, heads the enterprise as Vice President and executive editor. He previously headed up Boston Globe’s Middle East and Europe bureaus.
According to this article in The Phoenix, the global news outlet pays its correspondents $1,000 per month and gives them a 48% share in the company. Global Post aims to make cash by syndicating to online and print news outlets including the Huffington Post along with charging an annual $199 subscription which allows access to extra content not available for the general hoi polloi.
The journalists are “veteran foreign reporters” and the work they do for Global Post will form “a piece of their portfolio, not their whole portfolio”, according to Sennot. The veterans include,

Edward A. Gargan, the former Times reporter and author of China’s Fate and The River’s Tale: A Year on the Mekong, who’s based in China; Matt McAllester, the former Newsday foreign correspondent and author of Blinded by the Sunlight: Surviving Abu Ghraib and Saddam’s Iraq (detailing his own detention in the infamous prison), who’s covering the UK; Josh Hammer, who ran five foreign bureaus for Newsweek and is reporting from Germany; and Seth Kugel, the former Times travel columnist, who’s based in Brazil. GlobalPost also has several thematically focused correspondents — including Stephan Faris, author of Forecast: The Consequences of Climate Change, from the Amazon to the Arctic, from Darfur to Napa Valley, who’s covering (natch) global climate change, and Mark Starr, former Newsweek Boston bureau chief, who’s writing a global-sports column. link

All of which sounds very promising. Especially during these times marked by the demise of the foreign correspondent and the increasingly desperate measures some news outlets are going to to get their foreign news.
If this comment on Frontline blogger Alex’s blog is anything to go by, it appears Global Post also plan to feed blogs into their online offering (Update: as many as 350 blogs). John Whilpers, Global Blog coordinator, is out to find as many blogs as possible to fill the site out with freely available content. Which is where I have a bit of a problem with Global Post: their approach to bloggers – which was earlier described to me as “scatter shot”.
It’s not that difficult to find an email address for Alex, or a Skype or Twitter handle or mobile number come to that. Just Google him. It just looks kinda lazy to dump a comment on a blog and expect a response in this way. More than that, it looks kinda rude when you realise you’re one of at least 69 who’ve received the same message.
globalpostcomments.jpg
In fact, click on any of those search results and I’ll wager you’ll find a name you can Google, an email address you can email, a Twitter handle you can follow etc. all within one minute. Any of which would be a far less clumsy first point of contact than a copy and paste comment. While the global news reporting aims and online focus has to be commended, I think Global Post need to rethink how they go about engaging bloggers. This approach smacks of spam. And no-one likes spam…

UPDATE: It seems like I’m not the only one who finds this approach at odds with the blogosphere.

UPDATE: Mark Glaser over at Mediashift takes a closer look at Global Post and talks to some of the reporters,

While GlobalPost might have no legacy infrastructure, the leading lights of the site have more legacy media experience than online savvy. That could cause problems for a new media startup that will live its life online. link

Mark plans to look over the site next week and report back, so do I.

UPDATE: Chris O’Brien has more at the Next Newsroom blog,
 

“I’ve covered cops, courts, war zones, huge stories,” Sennott said. “I’ve never done a start-up. I’ve never been so busy in my life. But I’ve never been so excited about an opportunity to try to build something.” link