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Gawker Releases Pay Structure, Launches Sci-Fi Blog

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We promised ourselves to stop treating Gawker Media as the canary in the coal mine this year… and we deluded ourselves.

Point: Gawker Media’s new sci-fi blog, io9 launched today, after speculation about the start date with Annalee Newitz (Bad Subjects/Wired/SF Bay Guardian) at the helm.

Counterpoint: A memo from Gawker Media generalissimos Nick Denton and Noah Robischon was “leaked” by GM blog Valleywag detailing Gawker’s new pay structure. By “leaked,” of course, we mean the decision was made to simultaneously poke company management in the eye and boost their page views.

Point: io9 reads well. We’ve been fans of Newitz since her SFBG days and the blog lives up to our expectations. Basically, think Boing Boing without the dippy political rants and goatse obsession.

Counterpoint: Gawker wants their bloggers to do longer, more magazine-like posts (breaking the 1000 word barrier? Per Denton/Robischon: “In short, we have repeated the bad habits of traditional media organizations: leaving remuneration to the arbitrary will of upper management; and, by treating words as if they were Soviet steel output targets, encouraging quantity over quality.”

Point: By launching a sci-fi and futurism oriented blog, Gawker Media is playing towards the advertisers. Geeks have deep wallets and both Gizmodo and Kotaku have been among GM’s top money-earners, according to what we’ve heard. Playing to the Star Trek set = Ca-ching.

Counterpoint: Bloggers for GM’s sites are now going to be paid under a confusing, byzantine system of pageview rates combined with base pay. So, for Gawker’s full-time bloggers… The era of being paid per post is coming to an end.

Conclusion: Open ended. Will Denton & co.’s new pay structure repel current talent or help in attracting new talent? Will other corporate blogging entities take a cue from the restructuring at Gawker? Unlike Newitz, we’re not a futurist and won’t be predicting this one. Your thoughts?

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