I came across links to two similar posts on Twitter today–both about successful newspaper replacements: websites that rely heavily on user-generated content.
The first was about AnnArbor.com–Michigan’s new online daily. It replaces the Ann Arbor News. The website features a staff of 60 (down from 316 when it was a print publication), of which 35 are journalists (called content-creators). It also has “around 80” bloggers – most of whom are unpaid.
The second was about the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which folded in March, but kept the website up…a website “heavily reliant on more than 200 unpaid bloggers.” According to this article, both audience and revenue for/from the new site are ahead of projection.
On one hand, it’s great to see bloggers figuring so prominently in the future of news…but on the other I wonder how long until the bloggers providing free content for these types of sites realize they want some kind of compensation.
If you’re experiencing deja vu right now, thinking you’ve read this post before, you’re not crazy–I’ve blogged about this same thing before. These two articles seem to indicate that the model newspapers are moving towards–more online content; specifically user-generated content–is proving successful.
It also makes me wonder what would happen if these unpaid content generators decided to do their own version of the PR blackout. In case you’re not familiar with the PR blackout, mom bloggers are being challenged to eschew all PR stuff–giveaways, paid posts, etc–for a week in an attemp to get back to what blogging is really about: writing about what you want to, on your own terms. (Well, according to MomDot, that is; Resourceful Mommy has a different view.)
Right now mommy bloggers are all the rage, but if it turns out that local bloggers are the thing that turns around the failing newspaper industry, are we going to be reading about local or news blogger blackouts in a few years? Are those bloggers gong to realize, as mommy bloggers have, what a valuable commodity they are and are they going to start wanting to be compensated? Is it reasonable to expect that bloggers will always be willing to provide a never-ending stream of monetizable content for free?