Here are a few of her best points:
“The Huffington Post has a responsibility as a new media pioneer to set a payment precedent that values content providers.”
“The voices of the passionate amateurs that The Huffington Post showcases are becoming increasingly homogenous and, in the long-term, a blog dominated by rich people and celebrities will alienate readers that aren’t a part of this demographic.”
Haimoff proposed a pay scale, which, I believe, has some merit. In short, she proposes that not all contributors be paid; just the ones who, each month, garner the most page views, produce the best content, and spend the most time on the site. The plan in complicated, but achievable.
Still, I don’t think this is the answer to Web journalism’s woes.
I had an interesting conversation over lunch yesterday with a group of print journalists. I argued that the non-profit Web-only model will likely be the biggest success in this evolving industry.
My thoughts are this: non-profit publications don’t have to be concerned with turning huge profits. They can keep their staffs small and their readership high by publishing niche sites geared toward smaller communities of people with shared interests. They can make money to pay their staffs because advertisers will like their targeted audience and fair prices.
This solution also helps mitigate the problem (often harped about on sites like Save The News) of hard-working newspaper reporters getting laid off from their jobs because the parent company lost money on some other venture. In the non-profit world, the news is the first, and only, priority.
One of the authors of TravelingMom.com commented on Haimoff’s post. She said their site uses a “revenue sharing plan” to pay bloggers equally while maintaining overhead costs. It appears to be working for them.
This site really speaks to, what I believe, works. They have found their niche audience with, not just moms, but, specifically, “traveling moms.” Although they don’t appear to advertise (at least not in the traditional “banner ad” sense), what advertiser for car seats and kids’ hiking boots wouldn’t want to advertise on that site?
Their mission is “to address the urgent need for a comprehensive, immediate plan to address this downward spiral [of people not paying for news content] in the business of publishing original, quality journalism.”
I think bloggers like Haimoff and sites like TravelingMom are taking steps in the right direction. Hopefully, profit greed won’t be allowed to swallow the industry (again).