It’s a tried-and-true tactic: in the face of criticism about quality and methods, enlist an advisory board of experts and/or respected figures in the field. That’s the first thing that came to mind when I learned that Demand Media is about to announce an Editorial Advisory Board with charter members Andrea Wong, who just left as president and CEO of Lifetime Networks; Teri Schwartz, dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television; Ernest James Wilson III, Ph.D., dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at USC; and Kevin Z. Smith, president of the Society of Professional Journalists and a longtime leader in the area of journalism ethics.
Demand Studios EVP Steven Kydd says that’s the wrong way to think about the board. So if it’s not about responding to descriptions of what Demand does as a “content factory” or “content farm” — two of the most-used terms — what is it? To Kydd, it’s a two-way street for people from traditional media to gain insights into new forms and for Demand to benefit from their background and expertise. “Their job is to try to find an innovative path. We think we are one new and innovative path. … It’s going to give them exposure to what we do and we can look for critical feedback from them.” The group will be paid expenses and a “modest” stipend to help Demand with issues around original text and video creation and its cadre of 7,000-plus freelancers.
They’ll attend regular meetings at Demand’s offices in Santa Monica to discuss various issues and learn about the company’s road map. They find what we’re doing “interesting enough to help us think through traditional media and new media and we