The saviour of longform journalism or the end of quality journalism? That’s the question raised by The Gawker’s experiment with quality vs quantity in online journalism.
The Gawker now has an “internet editor” whose job it is to trawl the net and post photos, videos and basically anything to grab maximum page views and lead online readers to the site in the hope that it will supports its quality writing. At the same time it’s trying to grow the site with traditional journalism.
It’s an interesting idea and I’ll watch with interest where this experiment takes them. It’s just another way of dealing with the fragmentation that the internet has caused with online readership and how to get those valuable eyeballs onto your website and hold their attention long enough encourage them to read more and keep coming back.
Here’s an excerpt from the Nieman Journalism Lab’s story on what the Gawker’s doing.
This machine-like person has generated more than 300 bylines for Gawker since he started on April 9. These are not lengthy tomes, usually; nearly every post is just a funny photo or video, with body text barely longer than a caption. The average word count of a sampling of his recent stories is about 200.
Zimmerman sits comfortably atop Gawker’s leaderboard, garnering two to five times more pageviews than his highest-performing colleagues. Zimmerman is so prolific, his posts so magnetic, that Daulerio has now relieved all 10 full-time Gawker staffers of their pageview chores. …
“He’s a total freak, a specialist, if you will, and I’d much rather have him (one person!) taking care of the backend of Gawker and letting the rest of us grow the site a little more traditionally,” Daulerio told me in an email. “He’s doing an outstanding job so far, now it’s a task for us to keep up and build more around him every day.”
The reaction from readers to my previous story was split between “Journalism is doomed!” and “Journalism is saved!” A lot of people interpret Daulerio’s motives as trying to figure out how to maximize pageviews. That’s true, but I think the essential question is, more precisely: Can Chinese goats subsidize substance? Can farting babies pay the bills, so journalists can focus on real work?
Follow the link to read the entire story.