Demand Media, a content farm as it is called, is about to go public and make its founders a pile of money. They have built a content farm which pulls together content from other sites and serves it up as How To lists and even full articles.
USA Today is already using it to generate content for its travel service. Victoria Borton, general manager of USAT Travel Section, told Poynter: “Travel is an area where consumers are always looking for functional, actionable tips and information around a wide variety of topics. It’s an ideal area to offer travel tips.”
There’s the clue to the role of such content farms: “functional, actionable tips and information.” You can see from the Demand Media manifesto that it is aiming for this role.
There has been great concern that content farms will drain the life from journalism. Some of the more interesting comments on the potential clash between content farms and journalism are made by Jason Fry in his reinventingthenewsroom blog. Jason sees the impact content farms have on journalism as the result of cost cutting in news rooms.
There isn’t the time to do journalism properly, he says. True in so many cases. Truer, I suspect, in the USA than in the UK.
But there is an option. Stop the “churnalism” and start generating exclusive, original and quality content.
- Exclusive: you’ve got it first and get known for getting it first;
- Original: originally presented in interesting ways; and
- Quality: fit to the interest of your readers/listeners/ and viewers.
I shall be training news writing this Friday at a major UK newspaper and you can bet that I shall be banging on about the mantra: exclusive, original and quality.