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Exclusive Interview

How Should Journalists Be Paid in The Digital Age?

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Journalism is in a state of flux. Traditional newspapers are in decline, Millennial-centric sites like BuzzFeed are actually making a profit and sponsored content is now the norm.

Writer compensation is constantly evolving, too. What’s a fair salary for a digital journalist these days? There are plenty of payment methods out there. Gawker famously tried the pay-per-pageview model. Writers went overboard with galleries and articles on celebrity sex scandals, and realizing that pageviews were too easy to inflate, the experiment ultimately ended. They now base their goals on unique visitors attracted. Other sites, like Complex, pay their writers based on overall percentage of company revenue, among other metrics.

10,000 Words recently spoke (via email) to Coates Batemanthe executive director of digital programming strategy at Forbes Media, about the conundrum of how to pay digital journalists. The first thing Bateman told us was that Forbes has never used the pay-per-pageview model. What asked what he thought of this type of payment, he replied: ”We cannot speak for others. Our model is about individual experts building audiences and communities around their knowledge. That is why we choose to compensate based on unique visitors.”

The assumption that basic journalistic standards go out the window when clickability is king isn’t necessarily true, Bateman says. Read more

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Why Listicles Are Here to Stay

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Listicles, or articles in list form, have been around for decades. Traditional magazines like Cosmopolitan have had them on their cover for years (aka: “10 Sexiest Things To Do With Your Man Tonight!”)

But the resurgence of the listicle online really found its home on BuzzFeed. The news aggregator and youth-centric site is the most famous example of the listicle done right. Peruse the site and you will find thousands of lists on any subject you can think of. Most are humorous, some are enraging, others, uplifting. Take ”21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity,” an inspiring collection of photographs that has been viewed over 14 million times. They know what they’re doing, and they do it well.  Although BuzzFeed was once known as the silly home of cat memes, it now also focuses on international news and politics. A U.S. Senator recently caused quite a stir by creating his own listicle: ”11 Reasons Why Congress Needs to Fix Student Loan Rates Now,” mixing D.C. policy decisions with images and GIFs.

BuzzFeed’s editorial director Jack Shepherd recently told 10,000 Words via email about what makes listicles so attractive to his millions of readers. But first, he had a few things to say about the word itself. Read more

Are Personal Essays the Future of Digital Journalism?

personalessaysPersonal essays have never been more popular online. Sarah Hepola, Salon.com’s personal essay editor, thinks she knows why: “People have always been drawn to personal narratives. It’s one of the fundamentals of storytelling: Through your story, I better understand my own. As human beings, we like to see others fail and hurt and triumph.”

It’s not just random blogs that publish these confessional articles anymore. Digital (and some traditional) news sites are getting in on it too. Salon is a perfect example of such a site. Since its inception in 1995, it has gained a reputation for being a reputable source of information about news, politics, pop culture and everything in between. But it’s that ‘in between’ category that, in recent months, has really gotten the public’s (and the Internet’s) attention. Personal essays now garner hundreds of comments a piece. Controversial topics (and click bait headlines) have become the norm. And it’s not just Salon — outlets like The Daily Beast, Time and Slate all use similar tactics in the race for traffic. Read more