Eyeball-hunting in the new media
March 2, 2010
In case you don’t know it yet, the future of journalism is eyeballs. Eyeballs are everything. Tomorrow’s successful journalist is an eyeball accumulator. It’s a simple formula, really. Each time your headline, photo or lede provokes the Internet surfer to hit the enter key, your story gets one eyeball. (To be optically correct, it should be two eyeballs per reader, but never mind.) Eyeballs, more often called "hits," add up. They are the cyber-equivalent of bums in seats. They are the measure of your proficiency as a modern communicator.
Okay, you're Net-literate so you already know this! But I didn’t. I learned it by working for five days for an online outfit called Allvoices, a Los-Angeles based company that calls itself "the leader in citizen reporting."
Now, citizen reporting is a euphemism for no money. Everybody knows that. But Allvoices decided to go the extra step, and to start a service called Provoices. "We recognize that these are tough times for many journalists," went their pitch. So they would pay "up to $250 per story" to qualified journalists who were selected for the Provoices program. Plus there was this teaser: they “may pay much more for certain high-traffic stories.”
Allvoices, they said, already has 200,000 registered citizen contributors, reaching more than 4 million monthly visitors. The Provoice correspondent, then, would reach a vast audience that had already been carved out, and make scads of money. All you had to do was bring in the eyeballs. Easy.
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