Italy Launches its First HuffPo-Style Website: ilfattoquotidiano.it
As far as I know, the Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano is a first of its kind in the journalism world.
It is the only newspaper that started thanks to a few popular blogs, that has been increasing its sales since its first edition went sold out in a few hours on September 23, 2009, and is now opening a website thanks to the newspaper’s success.
Somehow, this web-to-paper-to-web model is working. The paper-to-web model isn’t, or at least it isn’t raking in as much money as publishers would like.
So the paper based in Rome, Italy, launched their website during the wee hours of the Italian morning of June 23, and after two and a half hours had already crashed due to over 450,000 visits.
The site’s editor-in-chief, Peter Gomez, wrote in a morning post that they had predicted to reach such heights… by the next day!
The site was down for a few hours and then went live again in the early afternoon. To compensate the loss, a .pdf version of the June 23 paper edition was given away through a free download.
At first, I was surprised by the layout: It is basically the blueprint-copy of the Huffington Post, with a three-column homepage that has a main one column picture and headline at the top.
Their approach (very critical of the current Italian political scene, especially towards Prime Minister Berlusconi) is the same, and you can easily tell by the titles on their navigation bar: “Politics & The Palace;” “Justice & Impunity;” “Media & Regime.”
The left column is for bloggers’ posts, with their little black and white head-shots. (Before launching the website Gomez had announced reaching out to over 120 bloggers to get them on board with the launch of the new website.)
The central column is for news items (always with nice big pictures) and the right hand column is for extra content, such as video or the online subscription form to the actual newspaper.
This last element is what differentiates Il Fatto Quotidiano from the Huffington Post. Although Il Fatto Quotidiano has set out to become Italy’s HuffPo, it actually produces much more original content than the HuffPo, if you consider the different proportions of the two news entities.
While HuffPo started off as a blogger-based website (and it still is for the most part) and went on to pursue independent journalism and reporting once they were really big, Il Fatto Quotidiano is starting off with an internet-savvy readership that has been asked off the bat to collaborate with its own reporting and to post material on the website.
The next few days will be dedicated to handing out usernames and passwords so that people can post their own material. We’ll see how it goes.
In the end, the whole experience is proof that going after solid reporting pays off. Il Fatto Quotidiano’s readership is willing to follow the newspaper anywhere. There were 40,000 people who had subscribed to the newspaper even before its first issue came out. There were at least half a million people looking for the website on opening day. Things are looking bright for the folks at Il Fatto.