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News & Views

Reddit’s evolution as a media brand

Time Inc announced a partnership this week with Reddit, the website that is home to a whole ecosystem of niche fandoms and communities. The site will function as a source of inspiration for news stories, with Reddit staffers identifying original stories by community members which may be of interest to Time magazine editors.

Each week, Time will compile the best Reddit stories and publish them on its website, its Reddit page, and Apple News. “We really wanted to find a way to leverage the user-generated content from their community,” says Time Inc’s Brittany Robins. And with over 140,000 active subreddit threads to mine from, there’ll be no shortage of illuminating, entertaining, and downright weird stories.

Taking posts from Reddit and repurposing them isn’t a new strategy; journalists and bloggers have been doing it for years, and Gawker was famously criticised for leaning too much on this form of content. The Time partnership is slightly different, in that members of Reddit’s community team will be the ones sourcing stories — and importantly, securing the permission of the users.

“For much of the past decade, Reddit has played a unique role in the digital media ecosystem. It has long been a top-10 source of referral traffic for publishers globally,” writes Digiday’s Max Willens. “Yet overall, the flow of referral traffic has been unpredictable for publishers. Unlike other platforms where publishers can set up their own accounts and pump as much content into the platforms as they wish, Reddit’s community would actively police publishers that tried to spam its ecosystem, either by downvoting the content or getting the publisher’s user accounts banned.”

While the self-policing communities are skeptical when it comes to media brands, Reddit is in the process of making itself more publisher-friendly, having recently partnered with content marketing platform Taboola. Publishers using Taboola’s newsroom app would be alerted when their content was featured on Reddit, enabling them to interact and engage with users in a relevant, timely way.

“We now have an opportunity to use data in an actionable way, and drive growth to our business and to our customers. We are thrilled to enrich editors with invaluable insights about stories and readers,” says Adam Singolda, founder and chief executive at Taboola. “Our partnership with Reddit marks an important step in this journey, enabling our publisher partners using newsroom to pick up a conversation in real time and participate in it.”

The influx of publishers into this ecosystem is bound to be met with some resistance from certain corners of Reddit’s passionate and loyal user base. But that isn’t to say Time Inc and other organisations won’t be able to make partnerships with Reddit work — as long as the community members are still given the space to be their weird, wonderful selves.

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