Web journalist and blogger Om Malik has coined a new phrase for the phenomenon of independent, expert online journalists - micro-pubs.

On his GigaOm site last week, Mr Malik describes a micro-pub as "a combination of old fashioned newsletter, blog and a directory service, managed by one to 10 people".

Mr Malik explains that the 'skeletal crew' of staff is one of the real advantages for micropublishers, citing specialist tech web sites PaidContent and JIWire as examples.

"The journalists or the editors who run these sites are in constant touch with the players in their business," he told dotJournalism.

"It is mostly word of mouth - and this is why these micro-pubs are such a powerful concept."

Mr Malik says this type of expert coverage aimed at a niche audience is so valuable to advertisers that micro-pubs can command higher advertising revenues.

"The fact that PaidContent and WiFiNetNews are doing quite well is an indicator that there is money to be made," he said.

"Think of this as the old times when newsletters would make tons of cash for specialised journalists. Now it is the turn of the micro-pubs."

Micro-pubs typically use open-source software and are managed by journalists; this form of publishing allows them to 'harness the power of weblogging' to create independent, self-sustaining publications, according to Mr Malik.

"I think it is a phenomenon which is here to stay, although my biggest fear is that, as the publishing industry rebounds, many of these sites will be bought out," he said.

"The specialist content is the reason the rest of the media world should gravitate to these publications."

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