Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Content providers

If traditional media is going the way of the Dodo, then who is going to supply content? In (a Google) search for an answer, I found several well established sites that have been providing this service.

Myths of Prostate Cancer. Associated Content video sample.

Associated Content was founded by Luke Beatty in Denver, Colorado, in 2005. Today, with its vast library of unique multimedia content, diverse community of Contributors and scalable platform, Associated Content provides consumers, brands, and publishers with a wide range of quality content.

According to Patrick Keane, AC's CEO, "Associated Content was created so anyone could share his or her voice, passion and expertise with the world and take part in the new content economy. More than five years later — with a library of 2 million pieces of content and a community of 350,000 individual contributors — we are still the publishing platform built for you, and powered by you. Together, we are The People’s Media Company."

While Demand Studios states in their site, "We enable talented freelancers to create valuable content, reach an audience of millions and earn money. Qualified content specialists can take part in the process, from making high-quality titles to editing finished content. We currently employ writers, filmmakers, copy editors, transcribers and title proofers, and we offer unique promotional opportunities for experts in all disciplines."

And how well do they pay?

At backstage.com actor Robin Raven comments, "The stories are 200 to 500 words, and if they [DS] buy the piece, they pay $15 an article," she says. "I've made as much as $2,000 in a week or as little as $100. I've also done editing and made a series of how-to videos for the company. I've worked from a couple of hours a week to 30 to 40 hours a week. There is tremendous flexibility, and I'm now able to support myself doing this. In fact, I was able to take a cross-country trip from Los Angeles to New York for my career as an actor while writing and editing stories on my laptop." Equally important, she says, the job has put creativity back into her life and allowed her to focus on acting—something she couldn't do as a waitress, due to the hours and the exhausting nature of the work.

From gigaom.com we learn that Seed.com, a recent AOL startup, tried an interesting experiment assigning interviews to all 2,000 bands attending the SXSW music conference in Austin. The assignment involved “real reporting,” said Saul Hansell from seed.com in an interview, in which writers had to pick up the phone and call the band or artist and write up a 1,000-word interview in question-and-answer format, as well as a 300- to 500-word biography. The price for this assignment? The princely sum of $50.

Time magazine has an interesting article on Demand Media, parent company of Demand Studios, which also runs a few highly visited sites like eHow.com, Cracked.com and Livestrong.com that receive 100 million hits a month — more traffic than any of the digital properties of Disney, NBC, ESPN, or Time Inc.

Demand Media has been criticized for sourcing and publishing content based on algorithms that look for high traffic keywords, paying journalists cents per word for this kind of work.

It's not surprising to find low waged content when online media is giving it away. Unfortunately, like a dog chasing its tail, the media is feeding itself from these same low waged content sources.

No wonder the dog is shedding its fleas.

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