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What is the Right Editor-to-Contributor Ratio?

When AOL’s Patch announced it was, uh, acquiring (not hiring, as they will be unpaid) 8,000 new bloggers, Venture Beat editor Matt Marshall wrote a post highlighting the editor-contributor problem they would soon be facing:

It takes at least 20 percent of extra management to organize it all — that is, AOL will need at least 1,500-2000 extra editors to manage the writers, if you take the editor-writer ratio norm of other major news organizations.

At Street Fight, Toby Murdock, co-founder and CEO of Kapost, questions the tried and true logic: “But do we have to accept that overhead ratio of one editor for every four contributors in stone?”

In our discussions with editorial teams, a good amount of [editorial management] is administration: tracking editorial calendars, figuring out payment, etc. Productivity gains consistently come through technology that automates repeatable tasks such as these…

Editors’ tasks can largely be automated, hmm? It’s a bold theory. So what should take over as the ideal editor-contributor ratio? Writes Murdock: “Kapost has numerous customers with a 1:10 editor to contributor ratio.”

More unpaid bloggers, fewer paid editors, plus one very wealthy owner. Welcome to new media.

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