Monday, April 18, 2011

No room for paid journalists in hyperlocal space?

An exchange on the website Street Fight (click to enlarge).

So there I was, reading through what looked to be a promising interview about the evolution of a hyperlocal site, when this question was offered:

Does it make sense to spend money on professional journalists to create hyperlocal content?

And this was the answer:

"Well, we’re definitely pegging the needle on the other side of that. We’re basically saying that we’re going to spend nothing. Like, zero."

Well crap, I thought. Another road closed to those of us sent packing as newsrooms downsized between 2007 and 2010. But I continued to read anyway, since the discussion turned to what could be learned from the Patch model.

The next question, though, was whether there might be a future in paid hyperlocal content and this came as part of the answer:

"Journalists never like to think of Groupon's ad copywriters as journalists, but really they are. As a Silicon Valley person, journalism is just writing copy. Journalism isn’t a profession. Journalism is, in fact, merely the pretentious part of the ad copywriter role in some ways. Paying writers to write words — and when they’re good they make more money — is kind of the name of the game here. And I think that Groupon is a better model for paying people because it’s worth a lot more money than most of the hyperlocal sites at the moment."

As you might imagine, the comparison of journalist to copywriter didn't sit well with some, which led to the exchange, shown at the top, in the comment section of the post.

Note the response from Topix CEO Chris Tolles ("I'll admit to saying that deliberately...). I'm not sure I buy that.  How about you?

1 comment:

Chris Tolles said...


Did I not point out that there were others who were paying journalists that seemed to be getting trcation (The Batavian and Patch).

I also mentioned how important good writing is int he success of such ventures.

I wasn't criticizing paying people to write (although we aren't going to) nor was I saying quality of writing doesn't matter.

I was criticizing the romanticizing of journalism and its values - which have screwed up the news business since watergate.

News is a weapon, not a public good.