From the desk of [your news outlet] and Scribd

October 7, 2009

The words “Document-sharing website” probably won’t thrill too many people who aren’t stationery geeks. Nevertheless, one such website,, has released a new feature that could make online news reporting a more interesting experience for the journalists and the readers.

But first, a dose of background: Scribd is a website that lets you do all sorts of things in publishing, including selling electronic copies of books. Some of us at Media File use it for a different purpose: embedding documents related to our reporting inside blog posts. See this blog post I wrote about pharmaceutical company Mylan’s legal tussle with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. At the bottom of the page, you can see the legal documents that I wrote about in the blog post and posted by using Scribd.

On Wednesday, Scribd said news outlets The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch and Mediabistro will use Scribd’s document reader on their sites in the same kinds of ways that I used it on Media File.

Scribd is letting the sites use it for free, sensing what advertisers and publicists like to call a “branding opportunity.” The reader would include Scribd’s name on it, but also the name of the media outlet in question. Think of your personal notepaper that reads, “From the desk of…” at the top.

Here’s more from Scribd’s press release:

The document reader turns nearly all file types — including PDF, Word and PowerPoint — into a Web document that can be shared on and any website that allows embeds. It can help news organizations:

  • Embed documents in news stories and add transparency to the reporting process
  • Increase people’s time spent reading each story
  • Increase brand recognition on and off their website through logos on the reader
  • Retain attribution for original document uploads, regardless of where the document gets shared on the Internet
  • Increase traffic through links back to the original story
  • It also, Scribd said, lets people share the documents on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.

Now, this is not a plug for Scribd, though as I said, I do use it on the Media File blog because it’s easy enough for someone not well versed in technology. I’m writing about this because I’m curious to hear from you readers after you’ve played around with Scribd. How important will these kinds of “paper-like” developments be to online news reporting?

(Graphic: Here is a sample of a document shown online via the reader)


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Wow to Great service!

Posted by galina sokolova | Report as abusive

Scribd is a pretty good service, but I am cautious about connections with partisan news outlets, and would encourage balance if any news media is allowed entry.

Posted by HighlanderJuan | Report as abusive

I’m an author and have been using Scribd for two months. It’s a wonderful way to get information out in the world, quickly and easily. Come check it out.

Posted by Jed Diamond | Report as abusive

this is as answer to Highlander Juan’s comment- don’t you think that any news outlet is basically partisan, how can you possibly recount a fact without having your biases shine thru

Posted by nasrin k. | Report as abusive