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Needed: Serious Newsroom Cultural Change


Question, please

Knoxify, a blog by Brandon Clarke and Casey Peters, have an innovative way of sorting a passel of local political candidates this election season. Just ask them three rather novel questions on a blog and let them introduce themselves. Easier than hoofing it through a subdivision; less juicy than kissing babies. And you don’t need a  governmental policy wonk to craft an answer. (If you do, don’t bother answering.)

Here’s their plan:

The upcoming Knox County Commission election has amassed a colossal pool of candidates, many of whom we know nothing about. The Knoxify solution: interview them all and publish their answers unedited. We’re asking all of the candidates to answer the following questions:

   1. Introduce yourself to Knoxville, who are you, and why are you running?
   2. We think it’s better knowing what not to do rather than having an extensive plan. What areas or interests would benefit Knox County not to venture into?
   3. What 5 things could you not live without?

Check back daily to see how the candidates answered our questions.

Who are Clarke and Peters? Well, they co-founded a group called the Young Professionals of Knoxville. Clarke was among the Greater Knoxville Business Journal’s 40 under 40. Peters is a project manager at Team Health. They have a cryptic reference to plans for a project, but apparently we’ll hear about that later.

It’ll be interesting –and I hope refreshing — to see how many of the candidates stop by, say howdy and answer 1-2-3.

Newspapers Online Media

Incentivising is a very bad word, but maybe a good idea

Some more thoughts on how to compensate online content creators.

Yoni Greenbaum says extend a performance bonus plan beyond writers to online producers and editors, too! (Bring it on!)

Scott Karp says pay for performance plans might spur traffic, but they may or may not improve quality becuase the Internet “turns a blind eye to quality.” (Quality? Just kidding.)

Mathew Ingram says on balance incentivizing writers “in the long run it is likely to make them more intimately involved in their blogs, and more interested in developing a relationship with their readers, and that’s a good thing.”( Like in taking more ownership of their worK?)

Dan Blank says to find sustainable online success, we must stop calling people bloggers – and work to create more journalists… who just happen to write for blogs. (How true.)

I have some other blog postings here on the pay issue, including one that has a link to the full Nick Denton new-pay-plan memo (a must read for this subject). And there is more react at this search results link.

While people can certainly pick at Nick Denton’s plan, mainstream media hoping to make their way fully into digital  need to look at whether their compensation systems reflect their old business or their new.


Top posts and referrers in 2007

Top 10 blog postings in 2007

  1. On Being There
  2. Predictions from the disco era
  3. It’s not the paper, stupid!
  4. Crowdsourcing fatigue
  5. Shots were fired
  6. With host Alison Stewart
  7. Charlie Daniels should be ashamed
  8. On polar bears
  9. Find sex offenders around your neighborhood
  10. Quick, where do most people get their news?

Top 10 traffic sources in 2007 (excluding search engines and feed readers)

  1. (was a larger referrer than Google search)
  3. (mostly Michael Silence)

And a hearty thanks to all those who link and visit!

(Stats from Google Analytics)


A rumor that keeps floating

The rumor about Led Zeppelin headlining at Bonnaroo just won’t go away. Maybe that means there’s some truth to it or maybe it means the Internet is nothing but an echo chamber.

My suspicion is that AC Entertainment’s Ashley Capps is loving keeping us guessing about whether the band will be in Manchester.

Newspapers Online Media

Readership incentives

Details have emerged on Valleywag about a new writer compensation plan for those at Nick Denton’s Gawker media empire, which includes the highly read Silicon Valley gossip blog. It’s very close to what online journalist Lucas Grindley proposed as the ideal (see an updated comment he made on his blog).

Valleywag also posted a “short version” of the new plan:

From now on, you will be paid a set monthly fee. You will be expected to contribute a set number of posts in exchange. On top of that, you will be eligible for a bonus based on the number of pageviews your posts receive each month, even if the story is months or years old. Each site will be assigned a pageview rate. At the end of the month, if the money you earn in pageviews exceeds your monthly base pay, you will be paid the extra money as a bonus.

This chart should make it clearer. If your site has a PV rate of $5:
$2,000 = 400,000 views:
$5,000 = 1m views:
$7,000 = 1.4m views

Based on this example, if your base pay is $2,000 per month then you would need to get upwards of 400,000 pageviews to begin earning bonus. A total of 500,000 views would earn $500 bonus (or $2,500 total pay). Four sites are already using the new bonus system (Gawker, Wonkette, Gizmodo and Defamer). One guest editor on Wonkette landed a huge exclusive and walked away with an extra $3k in his paycheck.

But read the long version if you are interested in how online compensation plans might work for reporters, particularly as newspapers focus more efforts on their online businesses. How to reward journalist in the metric-driven online world is a moving target and Denton has significantly shifted his approach from a pay-per-post system.

More on compensation for the journalists in the digital age is here.