Former CNET CEO Shelby Bonnie debuted his latest venture today, Screened.com, a news and social-media destination for movie, TV and online-video die-hards that is the fifth website he’s launched since founding Whiskey Media in 2007.Screened is a combination of daily-updated, original editorial content; a movie and television database; and user-generated reviews, wikis and forums.
Like Whiskey Media’s other properties, which include sites on video games, comics, gadget-testing and anime, it utilizes a points-based social gaming feature to encourage users to actively contribute to the site.
In a video interview with All Things D’s Kara Swisher, Bonnie talked about the crowd-sourcing (i.e. free) element of Screened’s content generation.
But we were curious about the in-house editorial side of the operation.
Here’s a brief Q&A:
How many staffers do you have creating original content for screened?
Two and a half. Two full time and one part time.
Is that consistent with your other sites?
The biggest staff is Giant Bomb, which has 4. The smallest is Anime Vice, which has one.
Why do you think it’s important to have full-time editorial staffers?
I think sites need human beings. They need souls. When you look at something like Associated Content, its a great engine for producing lots of content, but my sense is you’re getting a lot of mediocre content at best. So our belief is that you need human beings to act as the soul of the site and to set the standards for what people should be emulating; what’s good and what’s bad. We’ve gotten really good at leveraging the paid staff to empower the crowd to create something that’s actually quite good.
Are there guidelines for what the staff should be writing about?
We give them a lot of latitude. What’s core to us is that the site has a voice and a sense of humour, and we give the editorial team real ownership of that. News is really important. Reviews and previews are really important. We’re trying to be something that starts conversations and ends conversations.
Screened is the least niche of all your sites, so it has the potential for attracting a more mainstream audience. Are you trying to capitalise on that by bringing new users to the site via the blog?
We’ll continue to expand the purview of what we cover, and I think screened is an example of us going to a slightly larger, more mainstream base, and we think there are more of those to do.
What are some other areas you’d like to expand into?
Any place you look where there’s a high level of fan interest. I can see things like autos, or participatory sports or biking. Things like that.
So we can expect more new Whiskey Media sites this year?
My guess is we’ll launch two more by the end of this year.
Why should people read Screened versus any other entertainment blog that’s out there?
Ours is gonna have a very specific voice and taste, and you’ll either like it or not like it. There are a lot of good reference sites for movies and TV. There are also some blogs that do a really good job at getting out the latest news. We’re really focused on engaging a community in conversation and allowing them to participate in that conversation. And that is a different form. A lot of people view simple commenting systems as a way for readers to participate. But three or four years from now, I think that will be viewed as a very superficial feature in engaging a community.
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