Online Pay-Per-View

October 10, 2010 § 1 Comment

Ah, the internal memo.

I’m sure at some point in time that the internal office memo remained internally within the office and was a sacred part of office etiquette not to be trifled with.

Gone are those days (if they ever indeed existed).

This recent post on Business Insider features a leaked memo from Gawker owner Nick Denton concerning how much employees should spend when buying a “commissioned piece of content.”

In other words, how much should Gawker be willing to spend in order to introduce readers to Jenn Sterger?

While such tabloid-esque stories wouldn’t carry much clout in the straight news industry, the idea of this pay-per-view journalism is definitely catching on when it comes to the web.

Increasingly, websites take a similar approach to defining costs based on clicks–letting clicks determine not only a story’s worth and budget, but the worth of the journalist who wrote it.

On a hyperlocal site like Patch.com, where local bureaus can consist of nothing but a single editor and a handful of freelancers, contributors can get paid a whopping $30 per article (so say a few of my friends who contribute to the site).

While a published clip is a published clip and j-students are probably more than grateful to receive any kind of monetary recognition for their student work, a lot of these online freelancing gigs pay a rather microscopic nominal free or even pay you purely based on how much web traffic you direct to their site.

What you end up seeing are desperate status pleas from friends on Facebook asking you to bring them one click closer to the thousand or so views needed to generate a dollar.

The boom of the internet seems to have caused an exponential rise in information and news, but not necessarily original information or news.

Traditional print media has sort of always relied on a “build it and they will come” kind of strategy, using ad revenue streams to make costly newsprint profitable, often operating in the red for years before breaking even.

While the web is seemingly based on the traditional business model of ads, the relationship between news and ads and how they affect each other is a bit murkier online. What happens when journalists’ pay are in direct relation to how many views they get? Do the same standards of journalism apply then too?

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