The vast majority of the blogosphere exists in the long tail, and as we have often talked about recently, attracting an audience in the long tail is very hard to do. So it stands that many good blogs go virtually unread. Automatic aggregators, like Techmeme, end up acting somewhat like gated communities that are dominated by the biggest blogs -- who link to one another and prop each other up. Paid syndication like Blogburst is hit or miss and also favors the more prominent bloggers who have name recognition.
Brooklyn, NY-based The Issue aims to bring the best of the wider blogosphere into focus via a daily, human edited online newspaper that aggregates quality blog content in a single place.
The Issue is presented with a very clean, newspaper-esque design that organizes content into six main categories: US, world, business, science & health, art & culture, and musings (think: editorials). The paper also highlights a handful of "featured stories" (major headlines) across multiple topic areas, and each day The Issue presents one "Issue of the Day," which it explores in depth with a handful of insightful posts. Previous issues have tackled laws in virtual worlds, hate crime legislation, the diamond industry, and entrepreneurship in America.
The Issue's editors seem to attempt to take a balanced stance to contentious issues by presenting writing from multiple sides. For example, when writing about Blackwater, the controversial American private security firm operating in Iraq, The Issue presented posts from both conservative and liberal bloggers, as well as supporting information that was more non-partisan in nature.
Along with daily news and debates, The Issue has some other interesting features, including book reviews (reprinted from outside sources), political cartoons, and a pair of daily art photographs. However, one of the online newspaper's most intriguing features is the "What Ever Happened To..." section, which endeavors to revisit forgotten issues and update with recent information from the blogosphere. Recent W.E.H.T. entries include ebola, radioactive waste, and the hole in the ozone layer.
The Issue, which launched in July, relies on a volunteer network of editors to keep the content flowing. The site is only monetized with a single Google Adsense strip on most pages, so it is unlikely that they're making enough money to hire a paid editorial staff. Regardless, I've been reading The Issue for about a week now since co-founder Jean-Baptiste Cossart emailed to pitch us the site, and I have been exposed to a good number of insightful blog posts by writers whom I probably wouldn't have found. If Cossart's objective is to bring attention to the quality writers working in the long tail of the blogosophere, so far, mission accomplished. I'll definitely be adding The Issue to my daily reading list.