PBS’s MediaShift site has an interesting critique of Gawker’s system of paying bloggers based on page views. They don’t like the idea mainly because it emphasizes sensationalism (make a splashy, eye-grabbing post) over view loyalty that a site can build up and maintain: they quote the Gawker memo that set up this system where even they themselves realize that this model ” can overstate the value of cheap items with superficial appeal, but which damage a site’s reputation.” Fair enough but as Tom Foremsk of Silicon Valley Watcher comments on the PBS site, “It’s nice to make up new types of fantasy business models but the reality is that online publishers get paid by advertisers based on page views. Find me a media buyer that is going to buy a loyalty index or any other fantasy measure..” So what’s the right answer to the problem of getting web traffic and maintaining an audience without looking too hungry or eager for web eyeballs? The PBS article has some good ideas about this but Foremsk’s point is well-taken. In the end, the model for this isn’t out there yet, which isn’t surprising since newspapers haven’t figured out a viable long-term model to their problem of maintaining or even increasing readership.
But… Folio Magazine has a story about how Hearst Publications are going to distribute their content among Facebook, MySpace and other Web 2.0 biggies. Will this help to increase readership and spread their brand? It remains to be seem but odds are that this is a smart strategy to get the word out about their publications and their work. Stay tuned…
// Notes from the Road
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