Monday, April 11, 2005

Giving 'citizen journalists' a cut -UPDATED

GetLocalNews.com is going to start splitting the ad revenues with its citizen journalists. (Read the details here.)

It's an issue a lot of publishers will face in the next couple of years as blogs become integrated with news sites, as they have in places like Ventura County, Calif.; Spokane, Wash.; and France, and as those news sites increasingly borrow from the bloggers as in Bluffton, S.C.

GetLocalNews says it wil pay its contributors half the net ad sales revenues based on page views of their articles.

Cnet quotes Edgar Canon, chief executive of GetLocalNews, as estimating it will work out to $2 to $5 per 1,000 page views. Writers don't get checks unless they reach a minimum of $25 per quarter, though the company's online explanation says the amount will carry over for a year until it builds to $25. After four quarters, the account is zeroed out.

Things must be getting better at GLN, because its earlier FAQ for those running the local sites estimates a typical site might generate $1 per thousand views. (And then, GLN (which recently put itself up for sale) wasn't going to split any revenues until it made the first $500 per month.) Most of the ads appear to come from Google's AdSense, which is being spurned by at least one newspaper Web services provider, Our-Hometown.com, which says that as of the end of March it pulled AdSense from all its existing Web sites in protest of Google's toolbar that automatically senses terms in a page and links to favored advertisers.

This has been updated after Cnet corrected its article to 500,000 page views/month instead of 5,000

Canon says GLN's most frequently visited site, BeniciaNews.com, which covers the SanFrancisco Bay Area suburb of Benicia, gets as many as 500,000 page views per month. He also says the company publishes 4,000 stories "on a good day." But let's be conservative and say only 10 of those stories a day generate substantial readership. If I do the math right, that's 300 a month. Take that into 500,000 (and that's assuming all those page views are distributed only across those few stories), and I come up with about 1,700 page views/story/month. At the top range of $5 per thousand, that's less than $10 per month, or about $100/year. At $2, you'd barely make $40.

But that's using very generous standards. If 20 of those stories a day draw significant traffic, You'd be unlikely to make the $25 threshold over a year at $2 per thousand. And there's ample reason to think most stories will get less than that.

So while this is interesting news, it's hardly stuff to write home about. It's more likely an illustration of the "fame vs. fortune" problem that comes with a glut of publishing power held by the masses.

According to Cnet, Poynter's Steve Outing thinks payments at many sites will evolve to be more along the lines of T-shirts, mugs and similar trinkets. And maybe for those whose true need is for fame over fortune, that will be enough. But that will only go so far. The days when you could buy Manhattan -- or even a few bloggers -- for some trinkets is coming to a close.

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Another commentator has run numbers and is also less than impressed. This site has comments from Canon with a response.
Another also doesn't like it much. This has some of the same comments from Canon.

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