Content farms and a ongoing democratization of journalism

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If we follow online sports during all, you’ve substantially come opposite during slightest one site or story from Bleacher Report, a large sports-writing network that was recently acquired by Turner Broadcasting for an estimated $200 million. Much of a calm that draws a 10 million singular visitors BR gets each month is generated by an army of about 6,000 dilettante (and in many cases unpaid) writers, and this has led to criticism that a network is a “content farm” that fills a internet with low-quality writing. But is that true? In a sense, it is — though it’s also a unequivocally genuine instance of how a internet has lowered a barriers to entrance and democratized journalism.

The latest conflict on Bleacher Report came final week in a prolonged SF Weekly article, that pronounced that a network “floods a web with inexpensive user-generated content” and is “a prolonged approach from any old-fashioned notions of journalism.” The story includes a series of examples of what it says is a kind of messy essay that comes from BR’s proffer contributors, and a author criticizes a network for focusing on inexpensive SEO (search engine optimization) tactics, such as “reverse-engineering calm to fit a pre-written headline” that is pressed with renouned keywords in sequence to attract clicks.

Unpaid writers “competing for practical crumbs?”

The SF Weekly square also spends a lot of time articulate about how a infancy of Bleacher Report’s trade is driven by delinquent writers — like a 19-year-old who admits to author Joe Eskenazi that even he doesn’t unequivocally buy a title on his post. The apparent import is that a network is zero though a calm plantation filled with day laborers who shake out posts to fill a quota, and are speedy by a “virtual badges” they acquire for posts rather than an tangible salary. As a square describes it: “Unable to acquire tangible crumbs, they contest for practical crumbs.”

Ryan Chittum during a Columbia Journalism Review characterizes a network in many a same approach in a post formed on a SF Weekly piece, saying Bleacher Report is intent in a “race to a bottom.” As he puts it:

“Bleacher Report is a arrange of Demand Media of sports, a calm plantation engineered to get hunt engine visits with lowest common denominator clickbait.”

These criticisms about Bleacher Report aren’t unequivocally a warn — after all, they have been finished about substantially each other digital-media entity from Demand Media and The Huffington Post to BuzzFeed: a thought that user-generated calm is usually a incorporate to readers in an try to accelerate SEO-driven metrics, and that it is an unconstrained rush towards a bottom with small or zero of tangible value to supplement to presumably media or journalism.

And as a SF Weekly story notes, even Bleacher Report insiders to some border concurred this: a repository quotes from a debate given by King Kaufman, who was hired final year by a network to ascent a editorial standards, in that he says that BR had gotten a repute for “lowest-common-denominator crap.” Of course, a essay also fails to discuss that Kaufman and his group have spent a substantial volume of effort on boosting a peculiarity of a network, to a indicate where it is indeed some-more difficult about things such as piracy than mainstream outlets like ESPN.

An swap track to a career in writing

Not usually after a SF Weekly essay appeared, someone else combined an engaging — and we consider critical — viewpoint to a picture: Matt Miller, a comparison author for Bleacher Report’s NFL unit, described how he went from being a would-be sports writer with no knowledge to a member of a comparison group during a network, formed usually on his contributions to a site. As he put it:

“Fast-forward to today. I’m no longer in marketing, we now work full-time for Bleacher Report as an NFL Lead Writer. we have advantages and vacation time. we have a salary. we have these things since we was means to work my approach to a tip during B/R. we wasn’t handed a pursuit formed on my résumé.”

This is partial of a problem with a normal media response to “content farms” or user-generated media sites like Huffington Post and Bleacher Report — a clarity that they can’t presumably be as inestimable as a unchanging calm operation since people are essay for free, and therefore the usually probable value has to be a origination of low-quality calm for inexpensive trade purposes. But what about a writers? Why do they do it? And isn’t there value there as well?

Miller’s comment creates it transparent that there is value: distinct a aged days of normal media, where writers had to grind for years in dead-end jobs with newspapers or magazines or trade publications before some of them could be “discovered” and towering to a aloft ranks of a profession, sites and networks like Bleacher Report, Huffington Post and BuzzFeed give anyone a ability to arise to whatever turn their essay ability justifies.

Is a calm constructed by places like Bleacher Report a homogeneous of a mainstream opening like ESPN or a New Yorker? In many cases, no — though does that meant it is of no value? Of march not. Readers seem to like it, and who are we to contend they are wrong? Not usually that, though Miller creates a indicate that he and many other writers see a lot of value in what they have done, even if that value isn’t famous by members of a mainstream media, since it allows them to bypass a normal barriers that used to confine journalism. And isn’t that eventually a good thing?

Post and thumbnail images courtesy of Flickr users D. Miller and Yan-Arief Purwanto