For “New” Media or Old, Expertise and Skill Matter Most

November 23, 2010
 

By Cathy
Om Malik of GigaOm spoke earlier this year on Tech Crunch TV about a website service that aims to “buy, sell and distribute quality news content.” The site, eByline.com, was founded last year in Los Angeles to serve editors working with under-resourced newsrooms. TechCrunch put this question to Malik: Is eByline a viable business model?
His answer, in short, was, “no.” And we agree with him for several reasons. First, as Malik told TechCrunch's Sarah Lacy and Paul Carr, if a journalist is skilled at her craft, she will succeed. If she is not, she will fail. Period. Whether she works in a traditional newsroom, as a well-connected freelancer or by stringing gigs together via eByline-like exchanges, the journalist's experience, work ethic and talent determine her employability, not the vehicle through which she sells her work.
Journalists are moving to a new platform, certainly, just like every other industry. A successful journalist must understand social media and real-time content delivery in order to succeed. And if a journalist works as a freelancer, he probably relies on many forms of networking, including LinkedIn and other social media options. But once reporters and editors connect, it's hard to see the need for the middleman. With so many organic methods for finding an expert journalist on virtually any topic, why would an editor employ someone else to do it?
eByline and other services like it are banking on the turmoil in the industry – the downsizing of full-time writing staff and the growing number of talented journalists stringing together freelance work. We give these startups credit for stressing the need for experienced, proven writers. The question, though, is whether any editors will bite.
As an editor, journalist or consumer of news, do you see a need for content exchanges?

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