On this week’s episode of Media Voices, the founder of Film Stories magazine Simon Brew talks the dos and don’ts of a crowdfunding campaign, the potential of independent magazines, and the importance of giving new voices a chance to be heard.
In the news roundup Peter, Esther and Chris discuss why Facebook might be folding its messaging apps together, what next for journalism after over 1,000 media jobs were cut at Buzzfeed, Gannett and Verizon Media, and examine why Condé Nast is choosing to put all of its magazine titles behind paywalls. The team brainstorms new messaging app names with horrifying results.
In our own words: Chris Sutcliffe
Early on in our conversation, Film Stories editor Simon Brew mentioned one of the things he was most proud of with the magazine was the number of articles in its first two issues that had been written by never-before-published writers. Crucially, as far as I was concerned, he also mentioned that he was adamant that those new writers be paid for their time, citing Media Voices favourite (and previous guest) Empire’s Terri White as being one of the few other editors who are banging that drum. As Brew said, if your business model is based on quality content, then you should pay people to produce it. Anything else is exploitative and an abdication of the responsibility of an editor.
While editing the interview over the weekend, it felt like an eerily prescient discussion. Only a few days later, it was suggested by Joshua Benton for Nieman Lab that the reason BuzzFeed was so readily shedding up to 250 jobs is that ‘lots of people are willing to make quizzes for free’. He cites the example of one such contributor who has posted over 100 quizzes, for free, in the past three months, and whose bio ‘at the top of the page includes the user tagline, “hire me @ buzzfeed.”
Obviously, nobody is under any compunction to create content for BuzzFeed for free. BuzzFeed’s platform has enabled people to create such quizzes, often for their own entertainment. Without it, people would probably be doing the same on some other platform. But at a time when BuzzFeed is making significant cuts to its serious journalism budget, and ahead of a rumoured mooted merger with Group Nine, another low-end disruptor, that it is increasingly reliant on UGC seems to be both a signifier of its future priorities and, frankly, a bit stingy.
Outside of that, my discussion was Simon was heartening for the simple fact that it proves a singular vision, even in a crowded marketplace, can pay off if you approach it without cynicism.
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