More and more professional editorial is giving way to low-paid freelancers or upaid UGC. David Carr’s piece The Fall and Rise of Media contains the following observation:
That carnage has left behind an island of misfit toys, trains whose cabooses have square wheels and bird fish who are trying to swim in thin air. The skills that once commanded $4 for every shiny word are far less valuable at a time when the supply of both editorial and advertising content more or less doubles every year.
Where do all the burgeoning pixels come from? Everywhere, and cheap at that. An outfit called Demand Media now tests headlines for reader salience and cranks out thousands of articles and videos daily that it pays about $20 apiece for.
While user-generated content and “crowdsourcing” work well for certain kinds of content creation (e.g, online reviews), it’s not equally applicable for all situations and use cases. This is not a new view of course, but experts and professionals have an important role to play in the future of online content. This is where Yahoo! and AOL both hope to excel BTW.
Salon CEO Richard Gingras makes the point that brands matter even more today than in the past:
“I do think that in the content space, as we see the print publications decline, I think brands matter more than ever,” he said. “I think brands with sharp personalities matter more than ever, and I think that presents an opportunity for salon.”
I totally agree with him. Trust and quality, two values that content brands should stand for, will continue to gain in importance in this new world of digital serfs and sloppy UGC.
What do you think? Will people care about experts and editorial quality going forward?