Transport news site gets going

A website for the road transport industry is being set up by telematics company Road Tech Computer Systems, to meet what it claims is demand from hauliers, truck manufacturers and others for online news.

TNN.co.uk is intended to “fill the online gap” by providing “quality” editorial on road transport.

“There is no website out there giving news for the industry,” claimed Road Tech’s managing director, Derek Beevor. “Motor Transport closed its site and there aren’t any others providing total coverage.”

Beevor is “in talks” with unnamed magazines about putting the titles’ content on the web. Those with their own sites can publish “taster” stories on TNN.co.uk, with links to the full stories on their sites. Individual journalists can put their own stories on the site from their home or office.

The site will be funded by pay-perview advertising. Each advertiser will be allowed to choose where to place its ad, in a particular magazine’s section, attached to stories on a certain subject matter or a specific article, or on a page carrying a story by a named writer. Journalists will get 75 per cent of the advertising revenue; the remaining income will go to Road Tech for site maintenance.

Beevor wants to set up a steering committee made up of journalists to work out how the site should operate, what content it should include and advertising rates.

However, those at the press launch had mixed reactions. “It is an interesting business model for publishers and journalists,” said one.

Others pointed out a number of potential pitfalls. There is no editor or monitor to check for errors, although the steering committee could appoint one; there is no mechanism in place to prevent libel or deal with libel cases, which Beevor believes can be dealt with by apologising and changing or removing the offending copy; and freelances would be prevented from selling the same story twice by copyright agreements, or because editors would see TNN.co.uk as a rival.

Some were also concerned that, if the site took off, it would take advertising away from existing publications that are already suffering from insufficient revenue. Distribution and Truck have both closed in the past year.

Marcia McLeod

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