The Changing Face of Journalism: Weekly Paper Offers Bonuses for Web Presence

I found this VERY interesting. According to The Awl, the New York Observer is offering financial bonuses to its writers who have the most visibility on the Internet… via followers and such, that is (as opposed to the YouTube singing phenom or Russian ninja type of Internet visibility):

At last Wednesday’s weekly staff meeting at the New York Observer, an old-fashioned paper memo was distributed; it was not sent out by email. It explained a new trial incentive program for reporters, to begin immediately. A bonus pool—of money—had been set aside, and, beginning immediately, it would be dispersed to the staff as incentives for web popularity and web traffic.
The memo explained the intricate system, clearly the product of much labor.

There are five categories, each with their own cash bonus, and each category will have a first and a second place award each month. The trial period is for May, June and July.

The categories are:

• Pageviews
• Number of posts
• New Twitter followers
• Number of comments
• External pickups

So many ways to win.

The first place will pay $500. The second place will pay $300. There is a $2500 cap per employee in total awards. This means that one employee can sweep each month; but also there is a caveat that the same employee cannot win in consecutive months (questions of fairness versus merit—capitalism!—were clearly considered).

There were more caveats; for instance, web-only employees were not eligible.