Media News

An analysis of what’s wrong with

February 9, 2022

Posted by Chris Roush

Joshua Benton of Nieman Journalism Lab writes about the problems with

Benton writes, “Forbes’ staff of journalists could produce great work, sure. But there were only so many of them, and they cost a lot of money. Why not open the doors to to a swarm of outside ‘contributors’ — barely vetted, unedited, expected to produce at quantity, and only occasionally paid? (Some contributors received a monthly flat fee — a few hundred bucks — if they wrote a minimum number of pieces per month, with money above that possible for exceeding traffic targets. Others received nothing but the glory.)

“As of 2019, almost 3,000 people were ‘contributors’ — or as they told people at parties, ‘I’m a columnist for Forbes.’

“Let’s think about incentives for a moment. Only a very small number of these contributors can make a living at it — so it’s a side gig for most. The two things that determine your pay are how many articles you write and how many clicks you can harvest — a model that encourages a lot of low-grade clickbait, hot takes, and deceptive headlines. And many of these contributors are writing about the subject of their main job — that’s where their expertise is, after all — which raises all sorts of conflict-of-interest questions. And their work was published completely unedited — unless a piece went viral, in which case a web producer might ‘check it more carefully.’

“All of that meant that Forbes suddenly became the easiest brand-name way to push out B.S.”

Read more here.

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