CBS Web guru Quincy Smith talks Digg partnership

The Valley veteran talks to CNET News.com and says that plenty of cool stuff is on the way through CBSNews.com's partnership with the social news site. By the way, he's not buying Digg anytime soon.

When CBS Interactive announced on Tuesday that its CBSNews.com property had entered a content partnership with Digg, there wasn't a whole lot of information released other than the fact that election-related headlines from Digg would appear on CBSNews.com and that the news site's political news and video clips would be accompanied by Digg buttons.

The amorphous press release was intentional, CBS Interactive President Quincy Smith said later Tuesday in an interview with CNET News.com. It's not always easy to deal with Digg's notoriously opinionated community, which has shown a tendency to cause a mild to major uprising if something pops up suggesting the site has made a move without the users in mind.

In the case of the CBSNews.com deal, Smith speculated that Digg users might think they were being force-fed news from CBS rather than being allowed to choose it themselves, and the company doesn't want Diggers to get the wrong idea. "The community...hates it when Digg deals with any kind of content partner," he said. "They don't want their community freaking out."

Quincy Smith

Smith emphasized that not only does CBS want to see its content on Digg, but it also wants CBS News readers to see what Digg users have to say. "Generally speaking, CBS News has to start getting the community to do more work. It has beautiful, top-tier editorial, but online breaking news is a reasonable commodity," he said. "Digg is a perfect partner in that area. I can see us doing a lot more with Digg. I can see us doing a lot more with other community-inspired sites."

CBS Interactive ultimately wants to see "content beyond politics" as part of the Digg partnership, Smith explained, and perhaps more Digg content on more CBS properties. "You can always assume we're going to try to do more with our partners as we go," he said. "We wouldn't have entered into this deal unless we thought there were more things to do not just with CBSNews.com but ultimately with the network as well."

So will CBS Interactive buy Digg, seeing as it's Web 2.0's perpetual acquisition gossip item? Smith, a Silicon Valley venture capital veteran, isn't saying anything. "We won't comment on the fun strategic market rumors," he said.

Under Smith's auspices, CBS Interactive has acquired social music site Last.fm and finance-related video blog Wallstrip ,and has created its own online video syndication network.

For the time being, he's open to the fact that other news sites have partnerships with Digg and that CBS will ultimately have deals with other community sites, too. "There's nothing exclusive on it," Smith asserted. "There's no exclusivity on the Web, and when there is, it usually sucks."

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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