Why journalists should keep an eye on content farms

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about hyper-local journalism, niche journalism and something called a content farm.  From what I can tell, different content farms take different approaches to generating content, but some, like Demand Media, use computers to gather information already posted online and then put that data through algorithms to produce a new, aggregated story.

Media Shift recently explored the various ways in which the content farm works.

But the approach to churning out that content varies from how-to articles (Demand Media), vertical topics (High Gear Media), hyper-local (Patch.com) and sports (Bleacher Report, SB Nation). And at some sites, writers get paid a small amount, while at others they toil for free.

A roundtable of representatives from various content farms talked about the ways in which this is different from citizen journalism and why some people may want to write for free.

Content farms may provide opportunities for writers to get noticed and a forum for those who are passionate about a particular topic or who want to promote a particular agenda or point of view.

Frankly, I think the term is still a bit undefined, but the potential for impact on journalists’ salaries is there, as well as on the overall profitability of news sites. It’s a term we’ll want to learn more about.

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2 Comments

  1. It’s worth noting that content farms aren’t new issue. The term _isn’t_ undefined, nor is the impact that they’re having. For the last year a number of blogs (including us) have been covering the intersection of content farms and blogging and journalism as a whole.

    Sorry if it’s a little self promotional but I’ll point to a post we did in December (http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/content_farms_impact.php) and to our overal coverage of Demand Media (http://www.readwriteweb.com/tag/demand%2Bmedia).Obviously we’re not the only ones writing about it; PaidContent, Search Engine Land, and others have had done good stuff, too.

  2. Well, hush my mouth as we say here in the South! Sorry that I’m just late to the party. Thank you for the additional resources — I appreciate it.

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