Thursday, September 28, 2006

Social Media Payouts to Authors Begin to Approach Pro Levels

The Newsvine social news-gathering and authoring portal notes in a recent posting that they are beginning to pay out some reasonably serious money to its authors. Newsvine aggregates wire stories from AP with stories bookmarked and tagged by its community of news enthusiasts, who in turn post their own articles and comment and vote on what their peers produce. The site is booming these days to the point that the top poster-author in August earned USD 414 for their efforts. Not bad, and fairly close to fees paid out to some docents at About.com and not all that far away from Jason Calacanis' USD 1,000 payouts for top bookmarkers to support the new Netscape portal.

Unlike About.com or Netscape, though, the Newsvine payouts are based on ad revenues associated with their content, with Newsvine paying out 90 percent of the revenues in this sharing scheme to the authors. If authors don't want to be bothered with the payouts they can donate them to a major charity. As the site's ads were only about 35 percent sold out in August and as they are targeting 70 percent sellout rates the payouts will in time be very much in line with emerging industry standards.

The bottom line is that it pays all around to enable authors to focus on their work in ways that give them independence in their work and the ability to get rewarded in direct proportion to the quality of that work. This is something that magazines and news organizations have not been adept at managing to date: most writers live on meager incomes regardless of the quality of their work with a handful of superstars being paid handsomely regardless of whether they've produced revenue-worthy content or not.

In theory this new meritocracy of authorship can help to grow far superior content as time goes on - probably the most significant aspect of the emergence of weblogs and social publishing tools such as Newsvine. The systems aren't perfect - clicks may equate to good search engine placement as much as to an article's inherent quality - but it's likely to favor original content producers who are respected for their work as time goes on. Four hundred bucks may not sound like a lot for starters, but think of it as 400 dollars that a mainstream outlet did not fork out - and that much worthy content that's escaped their revenue streams.
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