Media Moves

The difference between staff writers and contributors at Forbes

August 27, 2013

Posted by Chris Roush

Lewis Dvorkin, the chief product officer at Forbes, writes about how the business magazine differentiates between its staff writers and its contributors.

Dvorkin writes, “Full-time reporters: We’ve organized 45 staff writers around key subject areas and franchises that speak to our brand mission of entrepreneurial capitalism. The topics: energy, medicine, computer security, privacy, retail, startups, venture capital — and more. The franchises: wealth, investing, sports money, celebrity, colleges and others. As I like to say, each reporter picks a dragon to slay, and slays it over and over again — in print and online. Staffers have marks to hit for each, both qualitative (scoops, reporting and writing) and quantitative (uniques, output, comments and followers). Gone are the cozy newsroom politics and relationships that pervade the industry (see my post on Moneyball). In print, these principles and the discipline of a two-to-three-week magazine cycle produces the long-form content that regularly hits the Most Read list — and gets shared widely across the Web (see below). Similarly, print cycles for our core franchise lists produce a depth of statistical information and related evergreen content that the Web devours. It’s a key factor helping us to disrupt the tyranny of the news cycle. Month after month, 40% of our traffic is to posts that are 60 days or older.

“Contributors: Staff reporters are backed by topic experts who bring a wealth of knowledge (frequently lifelong careers) to important verticals. Staff writer Matt Herper heads our healthcare and pharma coverage. We have 47 contributors who report and analyze that space with him. Chris Helman focuses on energy for us. Fifteen contributors do the same. Clare O’Connor just moved into the retail beat, joining 10 contributors who’ve been at it for awhile. Kashmir Hill and Andy Greenberg specialize in privacy and computer security. So do 12 contributors. There are nine staffers in our San Francisco office. We have more than 100 technology contributors. Sometimes, contributors provide all the coverage in a particular area. We started out with two contributors in the gaming space. As an audience grew around them, we brought on eight more. Together, they attract millions of monthly visitors — and are followed closely by gaming business enthusiasts. As I wrote last week, a model such as ours was recently put forth in The American Conservative as a way for elite news brands like The Washington Post to achieve far greater scope than they could with a staff-only driven newsroom.”

Read more here.  

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