LA Times and Mixx: Don’t get it

So as Matt Marshall reports at VentureBeat today, the Los Angeles Times has taken a stake in Mixx — a relatively new Digg-style social-bookmarking site whose main claim to fame is that Mike Arrington recently said that people were leaving Digg to go there — and will integrate Mixx buttons into its site in the same way that the Wall Street Journal recently added Digg buttons to its news stories.

I have to admit that I don’t really get why the Times would do this (the paper has apparently bought a stake in the site as well). Don’t get me wrong — I’m in favour of having social-bookmarking tools integrated in a news site, whether it’s Digg or Mixx or Stumbleupon or or whatever. I think that’s a smart thing to do, because it encourages people to submit your stories to those sites, which can increase traffic and (hopefully) readership as well. But why get into bed with Mixx?

Some people — like my friend Jason at Webomatica and Marshall Kirkpatrick at Read/Write Web — like Mixx, and I will admit that the site has a nice, clean look. But the fact is that Digg is still orders of magnitude larger. If you do a chart of the two, Mixx is a flat line. The top most-recommended stories or links on Mixx have about 20 votes, while the top stories on Digg routinely get more than 2,000 votes.

Is the LA Times betting that somehow Mixx will become the next Digg? Or is it just looking for a social-bookmarking site to cozy up to because everyone else is doing it? Or maybe the paper is interested because the company includes a former USA Today exec, a former Associated Press exec and a former Yahoo exec. Either way, I don’t see what there is to be gained by picking one social tool over the others.

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

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