Time Inc., one of the nation’s oldest media firms, is joining the newest kids on the block like Buzzfeed and Gawker in demanding that its stable of writers drive more reader “traffic” to its website, or else.
The warning comes from Time’s Washington boss who told the Washington Post that he has “the right” to fire a reporter who is unpopular on the internet.
Once home to many reporters who poured their scoops into a blender that editors turned into impactful stories, the goal now appears to be dragging in as many “eyeballs” to the website as possible, helping to drive up advertising rates.
Longtime Post reporter Thomas Heath (please click his page) interviewed Time’s Norman Pearlstine for story this week. He is the “chief content officer,” a new term for top editor being used in legacy media that is shifting to online.
Pearlstine, Heath reported, is working to stabilize Time in the digital age. And that means sizing up reporters and their popularity on the web.
RELATED: No more Buzzfeed in 3 years?
“I don’t think you can say to a reporter that you should be writing stuff for the benefit of advertisers,” the legendary editor told the Post. “But as an editor who’s a steward of a publication who has to go down on head count, do I have the right to choose to keep the reporter that is generating a lot of traffic . . . as opposed to the guy who happens to have a beat that nobody’s reading? The answer has to be yes.”
The New York Times reported recently that some online media has even shifted to a pay structure based on web traffic.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.