Web guru Steve Outing has urged online publications to improve their journalistic 'talent' by scouting for bloggers.

Mr Outing, senior editor at the Poynter Institute in the US, also warned against unnecessary animation, pop-up adverts and archives with links that do not work.

"This could be the year that mainstream media companies acquire the best blogs, underwrite them, and turn them into viable businesses," he said. "This is not only a great business opportunity, but a way to get innovative, non-mainstream content on to the traditional media sites... to make your site more appealing to younger consumers."

He recommended that local news sites identify the best local bloggers and offer them contracts. "The best ones produce content that's as good as the stuff your staff produces - perhaps even better - so consider publishing an acquired local blogger in print as well as online."

Mr Outing also warned against the 'subscription-only' mentality towards paid-for content. He said users should be offered the same variety of payment options as they would be in the offline world, because many people are not prepared to pay an annual fee just to read one or two articles.

* Major content providers in Norway and Sweden have got together to introduce a single common payment system for access to their sites.

Called 'Payex', it gives users a variety of options, including the use of mobile phones to pay for just one article.


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