Demand Media, an online content mill that pays an army of work at home moms and the like notoriously low rates to churn out a huge amount of content based on search trends, has inked a deal with Hearst to provide articles for two of their properties- the San Francisco Chronicle and the Houston Chronicle. (As James predicted back in January.)
A leaked email published by BNET indicates that the company- which pays a rate of roughly $7-20 for 300-500 words- has contracted to provide content for the two mainstream news sites. BNET published a portion of the email Demand Media sent to contributors:
We have entered into a partnership with Hearst Newspapers to produce articles for two of their premium publications, San Francisco Chronicle and the Houston Chronicle. Specifically, we are creating articles and videos for the Real Estate section of SFGate.com and the Small Business section of Chron.com.
We’re currently accepting applications for writers and editors. These articles come at a higher fee and your byline will be featured on these premium publications. Qualified applicants will not only be topical experts in their field, but also have relevant writing or editing experience in the subject. To apply, please email [email address omitted] with the subject line “Real Estate” or “Small Business.” Include a summary of your experience and attach any relevant clips. All interested CEs, please cc your copy chief with your application, and unfortunately we cannot consider your application if you have not yet had a review.
We are not currently able to disclose the partners publically and we ask that you keep their names confidential until further notice.
Some of Demand Media’s content- sometimes called “McContent” by journalists for the large volume of it and perceived low value- is already available on USA Today’s site in the Travel Tips section. Mediabistro calls the move “some convergence between the “content-factory” business model and the “real journalism” business model,” and says contributors that get picked up by the Hearst sites will get a slightly better rate and bylines. (Although improving on $7.50 a piece isn’t very difficult.) And while the trend is clearly not totally awesome for journalists, commenters on Gawker say that the pay is low but arrives more quickly and consistently than what they’re used to getting:
I write for Demand Media every once and awhile, and I can tell you right now why they’ll come out on top: they pay. If your work gets approved by the editors you get an transfer into your paypal account by the end of the next pay period, which are about every 3 days. So I can write a short dozen e-how articles at $15 a pop over a couple days and have the money by the end of the week. While that check for a story in a national print publication took four months to get to me.