hunter-s-thompsonIt’s worth applauding the creative efforts behind True/Slant. It’s a website founded by a former AOL executive who’s hired 65 “knowledge experts.” “Knowledge experts,” in this context, means professional journalists or commentators, some of whom work for the New York Times, the Financial Times, or Rolling Stone. Each member of this array of writers files a quota of news stories for the week. But not just stories—the experts are required to post comments and replies, to get their hands dirty in the conversation readers generate in response to a piece written by that expert. It’s social networking meets personality-driven news, Facebook meets Esquire, the prom meets Gonzo. And we like Gonzo, but we have our questions about True/Slant. For one, isn’t this new site a little complicated? Granted it’s only a prototype. But the site doesn’t seem very intuitive to navigate. Another question: won’t the popular articles always be opinion articles? Seems like this model will push “knowledge experts” toward opinion pieces and the opinion pieces will get way more play than the actual news. Can it be good for opinion to fully overtake news like that? We’re not sure. In the new model there’s a prominent place for sensibility, but what if True/Slant just turns out to be a highend Huffington-Post?

Walter Mossberg (tepidly) discusses True/Slant in the Wall Street Journal.

Jesse Nathan is an editor at McSweeney’s and the managing editor of the Best American Nonrequired Reading. His poetry and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in jubilat, the American Poetry Review, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Nation. He was born in Berkeley, grew up in Kansas, and lives now in San Francisco. More from this author →