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@pc2010: ‘Farm’ Talk With The Content Distributors

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Highlights from Rafat Ali’s conversation with Demand Media’s Shawn Colo, Discovery’s Bruce Campbell, Associated Content’s Patrick Keane, About’s Cella Irvine, and AOL’s Marty Moe:

Gutters: Are the panel members — whose companies are sometimes referred to as “content farms” — driving the value of content to the “gutter?” Colo: No; “We’re adding value by allowing quality freelancers.” Moe: No; “Models are varying widely. A hybrid of full-time employment and freelance work.” Irvine: No; “We are absolutely uninterested in producing cheap content. We invest heavily in ‘guide’ selection and training.” Campbell: No; “We’re the last ones to want to destroy anyone’s content model.” Keane: No; “We are not a news site. We are not journalists. But we’re democratic and open.”

AOL’s Seed: A contradiction in AOL’s strategy? On the one hand, it’s hiring big-name journalists but it’s also facilitating freelancers with Seed. Moe responds: “Seed is a platform and tool for us to scale the journalism we want to bring to market. We see it as an enabling platform to produce the highest quality journalism we can.”

Salaries: AOL’s payments are “all over the map;”’s ‘guides’ typically start off by making between $6 and $1,200 a month on average make between $675 and $1,200 per month during their first two years; Associated Content says it pays its contributors between $1 and $2.50 per 1,000 page views, in addition to other payments; Discovery’s HowStuffWorks says it “can’t afford” to pay low wages.

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