Readership incentives

moneyDetails have emerged on Valleywag about a new writer compensation plan for those at Nick Denton’s Gawker media empire, which includes the highly read Silicon Valley gossip blog. It’s very close to what online journalist Lucas Grindley proposed as the ideal (see an updated comment he made on his blog).

Valleywag also posted a “short version” of the new plan:

From now on, you will be paid a set monthly fee. You will be expected to contribute a set number of posts in exchange. On top of that, you will be eligible for a bonus based on the number of pageviews your posts receive each month, even if the story is months or years old. Each site will be assigned a pageview rate. At the end of the month, if the money you earn in pageviews exceeds your monthly base pay, you will be paid the extra money as a bonus.

This chart should make it clearer. If your site has a PV rate of $5:
$2,000 = 400,000 views:
$5,000 = 1m views:
$7,000 = 1.4m views

Based on this example, if your base pay is $2,000 per month then you would need to get upwards of 400,000 pageviews to begin earning bonus. A total of 500,000 views would earn $500 bonus (or $2,500 total pay). Four sites are already using the new bonus system (Gawker, Wonkette, Gizmodo and Defamer). One guest editor on Wonkette landed a huge exclusive and walked away with an extra $3k in his paycheck.

But read the long version if you are interested in how online compensation plans might work for reporters, particularly as newspapers focus more efforts on their online businesses. How to reward journalist in the metric-driven online world is a moving target and Denton has significantly shifted his approach from a pay-per-post system.

More on compensation for the journalists in the digital age is here.