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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;” About.com’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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