Fark.com, the popular, snarky news aggregation Web site whose founder lives in Versailles, has struck a deal with USA Today that the two say is a coupling of new and old media.
Under the deal, USA Today is sponsoring the section of Fark that compiles technology stories. USA Today also will sell advertising on the "Geek" page and give Fark a cut. The newspaper, the flagship of publishing giant Gannett Co. Inc. based in McLean, Va., also has a widget on the Geek page showing its latest technology news and a player with USA Today's video reports.
The Geek page previously existed, "but it wasn't branded with USA Today," said Fark founder Drew Curtis. "Basically, they're sponsoring the page."
USA Today also is integrating Fark content on USA Today's Web site at http://fark.usatoday.com.
Curtis said the reaction of his 10-year-old site's loyal visitors was as he expected.
"Any time something like this happens, people grief over it for about three days, and then they realize nothing's changing and they stop," he said. "Their biggest concern was that USA Today might exercise censorship control over content and comments, but they're not going to be involved in that at all."
Curtis said that was one of the first things discussed during the talks that led to the partnership, talks that began over beers at this year's South by Southwest music and film festival in Austin, Texas. The sharing of content has been automated, he said, so there's no day-to-day interaction between USA Today and Fark and its five employees.
Curtis said the one-year deal is the first major content deal that Fark has done, and the site is in talks with two other companies in different market segments about similar deals. He declined to name them.
Brian Dresher, online marketing manager at USA Today, said the move helps further the newspaper's goal of creating "more of a footprint in the social media space."
"With Fark," he said, "we were really trying to find an opportunity to let new and old media work together and demonstrate there's a place at the table for both."