Today we met with Zach Zimmerman, the editor-in-chief of the Stanford Daily. He seemed very excited about the product we are developing.

Here are some points he made:

-The Stanford Daily has been planning on getting rid of anonymity of comments. Anonymity definitely reduces the quality of comments.

-He believes the viral elements on our site will increase eyeballs to the Daily. “Stanford students would definitely invite their friends to join a conversation.”

Voci.us have 2 key viral elements:
1) When someone starts or joins a conversation, they can invite their friends. And those friends can invite their friends.
2) When someone makes a comment, they have the option of including that comment on their facebook wall.

He pointed out that not all users who arrive at a comment page through viral means would necessarily visit the Daily article before
commenting. So he made the following suggestion: “Whenever someone is prompted to enter a comment page (through viral means), the
corresponding news article page should open up simultaneously with the comment page. This will increase the chance that the article is
read, and will also require less effort by the user.” This was a great piece of advice.

-He said that although the Daily has a good sense of the age of their users (since most are college students), he would love to get more specific demographic data.

-Shared ad revenue was like icing on the cake for him. I made it clear that we want to share a significant portion of ad revenue with our news partners. When I emphasized ‘significant’ (I always emphasize the word so that news partners don’t think I’m taking about 5 percent. I want them to know we mean business), his response was “I don’t even think you need to give away that much. 15-20 percent would be plenty.”

-Towards the end of the meeting he asked me, “Would this cost anything for news sites?”, to which I responded that it would be 100 percent free. He said The Daily would like to be involved once our product was completely developed, and asked me to keep him updated.

-I also asked him how the paper was funded. They have 3 main funding sources:
1) Stanford gives them some money
2) Significant revenue comes from print advertising. Unlike the rest of news industry, print ads remain strong (due to students reading them on campus).
3) Small portion of revenue comes from web ads. They are looking for ways to expand this.

-This meeting was very promising. Clearly The Stanford Daily is different in many ways from non-school based news sites. However, many of his points apply to the news industry as a whole.

-Dan

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