Tish Grier

Tish Grier began her freelance writing career in 2005 with a huge leap of faith and a couple of blogs. Since then, she became the Editor of the Corante Media Hub (http://media.corante.com), has published several articles on blogging and interactivity, and was a panelist at the 2006 SXSW Interactive conference. Tish graduated from Smith College in '01 where she received highest honors for her critical analysis of American religious films of the 20th century. Along with her editing and writing, Tish consults and speaks on blogging and interactivity, and is a member of the selection committee for the 2006 Northampton Independent Film Festival. She maintains her own media-centered blog at the Constant Observer (http://spap-oop.blogspot.com).


From Open Mics to Buzz Brokers, ‘Content Farms’ are Not all Created Equal

They are called a variety of euphemisms, from “content mills” or “content farms” to “content creation houses” and the Fifth Estate, but make no mistake: sites that specialize in the production and distribution of user-generated content are influencing the news industry and journalism.

The evergreen content produced by Demand Media, Helium.com, and Associated Content finds its way from these platforms to a variety of media partners, including newspapers, magazines and online news providers seeking to add local or evergreen content to their sites.

These partnerships generate low-cost content for publications and revenue for the content provider. And for some writers, these opportunities provide them with credibility and a small amount of regular income.

In a recent webinar hosted by Poynter’s News University, Mitch Gelman, Vice President of Special Projects at Examiner.com — a relatively recent addition to the stable of content creation houses — discussed the differences between these sites. Read more

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Why USA Today Partnered with Demand Media

As more news organizations begin to consider integrating user-generated content into their daily offerings, several traditional news publishers (Hearst) have started using various forms of user-generated content from content production sites like Helium.com and Associated Content. Demand Media is the newest and perhaps most closely watched of the content production sites.

Concern over Demand comes not just from its 2008 merger with blog syndicator and aggregation software developer Pluck, but also due to its proprietary algorithm that is said to help content producers generate keyword-rich content that increases reach into the first pages of Google and other search results.

In the deal between Demand Media and USA Today, Demand provides 4,000-plus keyword-rich “Travel Tips” articles and other types of content that will be cached in USA Today’s Travel Section. Demand Media will also provide keyword-rich advertising to accompany the content. While the article content will be free to USA Today, the revenue generated from the ads will be split between the news organization and Demand. Read more

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Helium Hopes Credentialing Sets it Apart from other Social Content Producers

For those who are concerned about the future of news, the notion that a “content mill” could produce quality journalism seems to be anathema.

But Mark Ranalli, CEO of Helium.com, has been working towards building the kind of online community that could do that.

In a recent conversation with Ranalli, he explained that since its launch in 2006, Helium has been growing as both a content platform and community in many different ways. One of the significant changes is Helium’s Credentialed Professional Program.

As more professionals have come to Helium, some via its partnership with the Society of Professional Journalists, Helium needed a system that brought their offline credentials into the online community.

For example, a journalist or SPJ member can apply to Helium’s credentialing board with all the necessary information, and the board will check those credentials. If the writer is credentialed as a journalist, then he will receive the appropriate site badge, and a four-star ranking. Read more

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How Associated Content Helps Yahoo Go Local

Since 2004, Associated Content — “The People’s Media Company” — has grown a stable of over 380,000 loyal content producers who have contributed over two million pieces of text, audio, video, and photographic content to its distribution platform. In mid-May, it was announced that Associated Content had been sold to Yahoo! for a little more than $100 million, and has plans to shut down the Associated Content website when the sale is complete in the third quarter of this year.

How will Associated Content continue to court the loyalty of its contributors while the sale and shutdown are pending? And what — beyond the obvious advantages of loyal contributors and a huge cache of money-earning, evergreen content — does Yahoo get? I posed these questions to Patrick Keane, CEO of Associated Content.

But first, here’s how it works now. Associated Content’s writers create self-selected and assignment-based content. Most of what is produced is evergreen content, but there are also personal essays, product reviews, and the like. Read more

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Google’s Real-Time Search Raises Importance of Link Sharing Via Social Networks

One of the most important ways for blogs to get good traction in search used to come from links on other highly linked blogs and Web sites. The exchange of links from blog to blog created “link love,” which then helped to increase a blog’s Google PageRank. Along with keywords, PageRank could significantly boost a blog’s position in search, sometimes putting that blog higher in results than a major news site. Even when bloggers linked to newspaper sites, news sites didn’t always see those links as beneficial to them.

Now, a new kind of link love, associated with real-time search and social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, might be the kind that news organizations seek to embrace.

In December, Google announced that it would offer real-time search results that are seconds old, rather than the usual ones that are updated every 15 to 20 minutes. News headlines, blogs, tweets and feeds from the most popular social networking sites would now be part of a true, real-time search. Read more

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Most Print and Online Journalists Use Social Media for Story Research

The discussions in many newsrooms about social media often focus on whether or not it is appropriate for journalists to have a presence in social networks. Yet there is far more to interacting with social media than participating in networks.

A recent study by Cision, a provider of newsroom software for the public relations industry, and Don Bates of The George Washington University Master’s Degree Program in Strategic Public Relations, sheds some light on how journalists use social media and what they think of it as a news resource. 

The survey of 371 journalists working for newspapers, magazines, and Web sites found that a large majority of reporters and editors now depend on social media sources for story research. Among the journalists surveyed, 89 percent said they look to blogs for story research, 65 percent go to social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, while 52 percent check out what’s happening on Twitter and other microblogging sites. Read more

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Demand Media May Be Bad for Social Media, but Not for Journalism

In the last month, there has been a lot of sturm und drang over Demand Media, its model of content production, and its proprietary algorithm for optimizing content. Most of what was said, however, missed the point. I believe Demand Media is more of a threat to social media communications than it is to journalism and journalistic standards because of the kind of content it provides and what it does by providing search optimized content for corporate sites and evergreen content for the news industry. First, some background.

Who are these Demand Media guys anyway?

Demand Media was founded in 2006 by former Intermix Media & MySpace CEO Richard Rosenblatt and Shawn Colo. The company started out by buying up domains, Web sites and other abandoned or neglected Internet properties. DM grew quietly and strategically, while working on its proprietary algorithms for search engine optimization (SEO).

In March 2008, Demand Media acquired Pluck, which in 2005 founded Blog Burst, “a syndication service that places blogs on top-tier online destinations.”

I met Dave Panos, Pluck’s CEO, and the Pluck Team back in the autumn of 2005 at the “BlogOn Social Media Summit.” At that time, Pluck had several consumer-oriented offerings, including a simple to use RSS reader. Read more

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AllVoices: New Prize for Excellence in Citizen Media

User-generated content may still be difficult to monetize, but it may be able to earn those users a bit of cash if it’s got some quality. New citizen journalism site AllVoices, which describes itself as an “open media site where anyone can report from anywhere,” launched its Excellence in Citizen Media program — where contributors can earn up to $10,000. (Program details)

The program, which began on Aug. 19 and runs through Feb. 19, 2009, will pay the $10,000 (less transaction processing costs) for the first “one million total page views of reports and contributions submitted by contributor or participants.” Incentives of $1,000 will be paid for every 100,000 total page views (up to one million).

Contributors can submit content in many forms (including text messages and cell phone videos) directly to the site. News categories include: politics, business, conflict and tragedy, science and technology, sports, and entertainment. Read more

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Seven Traits of Highly Effective Community Managers

Getting back from the New Pamphleteers conference, I considered how many news organizations sites that, one way or another, are doing some sort of community building. This can mean anything from using Topix Forums to implementing a custom-built community tool (with the hopes of repeating the success of Bluffton Today.

More often than not, most of the attention and money for community sites gets spent on a tool — specifically, the community-building content management system (CMS). It’s as if the person who will actually develop and manage the community is an afterthought. I recommend flipping this around: make your top priority choosing the right person for this new job.

A lot will be riding on this person — more so than which tools are used. Your community manager should understand people well and be good at creating and maintaining relationships and ability to create relationships, regardless of which tools are available. Read more

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Citizen Journalism and the Quest for Good PR

In the many academic discussions about “citizen journalism,” few consider how it relates to public relations for nonprofits. On Apr. 28, Elizabeth Toledo wrote in PR Week about how citizen journalism affects non-profits. She raised some ethical concerns.

First, Toledo states that the old model was for “advocacy organizations” to influence media by “sending press releases, holding press events, submitting letters to the editor, and publishing newsworthy information.” The editor or columnist then acted as a filter, and organizations with good reputations “could generally count on professional journalists to dismiss accusations that did not have a solid foundation.”

Concerned about how both CNN and the New York Times appear to be increasing citizen involvement on their sites, Toledo says “the editor’s role shrinks while the role of the ‘citizen journalist’ grows. Leading news sites… will invite the public to submit their own stories and, through a combination of popularity and relevance, the public will drive which stories make it through the firewall onto the evening news. Read more

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