Your writing’s pretty good; how’s your CPM?

Career columnist Penelope Trunk blogs her firing from Yahoo!.

There’s a tremendous outpouring in the comments as well as some catty ones there and on Valleywag..

She says she was fired because her column commanded low advertising rates. So reporters and writers out there: How’s your CPM doing?

Print media writers look askance at how ratings affect TV news, but in the digital economy, they face the prospect of eventually being tied to their advertising generating power, the almighty CPM,  or advertising cost per thousand impressions.

I’ve done some rough calculating on my newspaper’s Web site and I don’t see any writers generating their salary in ad revenues from online. I think others are making similar calculations. On the other side, the same forces are seeing sports cherry-picked from newspapers for six figure salaries by ESPN.

Penelope Trunk; she’ll do fine. For hundreds of other journalists, the value placed on their work will be a bleak reality.

(One of my favorite blog posts by her is about the origin of her name, a “brand me” classic. Her Wikipedia entry, however, is over the top caustic, describing her as an “American idiot,” at least at the time of this writing.)

(via Sparkwood and 21)


  1. Hi Jack,
    I came to this post thru a number of different links back to it…
    and you’re right, most reporters, like most bloggers, would be hard-pressed to make a decent salary off their CPM. One big difference between reporters and bloggers though is that bloggers often must cultivate community and a “personal brand.” These are very different qualities and are developed sometimes alongside good journalism, but aren’t a prerequisite for good journalism.
    So, in the case of Trunk, I think it might be best to look at her firing, and her decrease in CPM, as perhaps having something to do with the drop in her personal brand, not so much as a problem with her “journalism.”
    Actually, what *would* be interesting is to see if someone like Tom Friedman or Maureen Dowd could generate enough CPM to replace *their* salaries, and if there would be fluctuations in salary due to the waxing and waning of their “personal brands.”

  2. Paying starving journalists will be the death of good journalism

    I may have to create a whole new category for compensation of online journalists.Edward Wasserman, a veteran newsman and a journalism professor at Washington & Lee University, flattered me a bit by picking up on a blog post I wrote…

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