Examiner.com has released a plan to become more quality-focused, reported Social Times. The site has been called a "content farm" in the past, and has been noted for giving journalists and bloggers the opportunity to develop a following, but not necessarily for paying them well. One contributor reportedly received $35 for twenty-five posts. The site also doesn't put the most important stories first on local sites, making top stories difficult to receive without the aid of a search engine.
The site now seems to be worried that its former way of running things has hurt its credibility. As part of a change of direction, it posted a white paper April 5th discussing how to assess quality.
Written by Mitch Gelman, Examiner.com's vice president of quality, the white paper tries to find a commonality and consistency in judging story quality. Gelman puts forth 8 criteria to reach this end: appropriateness, credibility, being on topic, geographically correct for the area, timeliness or timelessness, well-told and engaging, proper formatting, and distinctiveness.
Examiner.com has 70,000 contributors who write 3,000 posts a day, making regulation sometimes difficult. In addition to a concern about quality, Gelman mentioned the site's fear that this lack of regulation with story placement on the sites has hurt it. He specifically referenced the Superbowl, when Greenbay's win was reported at the bottom of the page after 3 other, less relevant stories.
While Facebook "likes" and other social media can help decide the relevance of a story, Gelman pointed out the need for a more subjective measure. Instead of depending on algorithms, he said, "[P]eople - actual human beings with common sense, journalism experience and sound judgment - need to be placed in a technological work flow so that a more subtle approach to determining a qualitative value can be calculated." He acknowledged managing content is much easier for papers like The New York Times, which publish five times less content per day than Examiner.com.
Examiner.com has gathered together a board of news specialists to help advise, it said in a press release. CEO Rick Blair explained the decision, saying, "We take great pride in the value and growth of our contributors. We want to ensure our 25 million monthly readers continue to have access to well-researched, interesting and credible content that is relevant and engaging to cities in which they live. The appointment of the board underscores our commitment to providing the best possible platform and training for our 70,000 contributors to continue to create this high-caliber content."
In addition to training, contributors will receive more payment for quality articles. The number of site visits will no longer be the main factor in payment, according to paidContent. Examiner.com has yet to say how much that payment will increase.