Monday, November 8, 2010

Content farms: a sustainable way to build a journalism career?

Lots of students have asked me whether they should try freelancing for companies who are advertising on the web looking for journalists.

So-called "content farms" like Demand Media, Associated Content, and to some degree, Helium, pay obscenely little money for stories that they, in turn, provide to websites looking for content. They have thousands of freelancers writing website content for as little as $2 or $3 a story.

Here's a Columbia Journalism Review article by former Miami Herald reporter Nicholas Spangler about working for Demand Media.  

My advice? Don't do it. You're better off trying other areas where you can use your journalism skills, like public relations, or putting your time into writing for markets that pay real money. They're not easy to get into, but, they're much more worth it in the end. 

Don't just take my word. Read the comments at the bottom of the piece. Many Demand media writers weigh in with the pros and cons.

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