Two out of Three is Best for Online Journalism

You all know the rule. No, not the Golden Rule, which of course is never speak to John Hamm unless Hamm speaks to you first, no matter how handsome and inviting he looks. Seriously, Hamm is like Bieber for MILFs.

I mean the “Pick Two” rule — cheap, fast, or good. Most people when hiring someone for a project want all three, but as many a project manager knows, that’s next to impossible. Cheap and fast? Probably won’t be good. Fast and good? Ain’t likely gonna be cheap. You get the idea.

The problem with online news operations like Demand Media and Yahoo’s new “Contributor Network” (its “Rebranding” of Associated Content) is they are trying to accomplish all three. They want to pay pittance freelance fees for real-time reporting and have those stories be good enough to stand as quality news and commentary.

I’m not saying it won’t work, I’m merely saying it shouldn’t. If you can get good journalism fast and pay only a couple bucks per story — more if your SEO jitsu is good enough to drive page views — then that just encourages further commoditization and pushes writers to favor quantity over quality. At some point the “cheap” will kill the “good,” or good journalism (and journalists) will demand better pay.

Quality shouldn’t get brushed aside for speed or cost. The more that companies treat news as just another category of “content,” the more it’s the public that will suffer the consequences.

One thought on “Two out of Three is Best for Online Journalism

  1. Gary,
    Your blog is pretty much what has happened to the broadcast television production world. Pick two – and they picked cheap and fast. The one thing we didn’t expect was software that made it look pretty good too.
    What eventually happens is that their inexperience surfaces at the most inopportune time, when things are about to hit the fan. That’s when there isn’t enough money in the world that can save them… and someone pays the price.

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