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Abstract

A research project that is examining how alternative media producers work and survive in the online space has found that a key element for success is building credibility, or trust, with an audience. In a similar way to traditional media, credibility with an audience is essential to online publishing ventures to making money and generate success. If an audience trusts the producer, they will return. The researcher has interviewed bloggers, online magazine producers, website developers and broadcasters to investigate four main questions: what skills are required to work in the online environment, what business models are used, what technologies are employed, and what is the degree of success. This paper is reporting on how the respondents in the research project view credibility and how they build, or have built, that trust with the audience. Analysis of the data gathered via interviews and analysis of online sites has shown that there are three ways to build credibility with an audience: authenticity, engagement and interactivity with the audience, and transparency. The paper will discuss credibility and its relationship with these three themes, how these practitioners understand the need to balance the competing priorities of making money and producing credible content, and how they maintain this credibility by having an intimate understanding of their audience.