Those “great ideas” involve transition more to the Internet. In fact, in his memo to employees, Eason said he wants to “get us quickly to a daily publishing web company that happens to have a weekly print publication that is a reference point for the web.” To staffers, Eason has been holding up the Huffington Post’s Chicago website as a model. It has one employee, who essentially sifts through every media outlet in Chicago for the best stories and then links to them. He’s a filter of content, but not a creator of one. Eason is in awe of the model.
Eason sees his papers doing something similar, but it “doesn’t mean we give up on original content.” Instead, Eason wants his journalists to be filling their websites up every day with fresh content. And not just fresh content, but links to other stories written by anyone in the world. “I’ll use [CL staff writer] Andisheh Nouraee as an example. I love what the guy writes. But I’m also interested in going, ‘What are you looking at in the morning, what’s cracking you up, what kind of crazy shit are you pulling off the web?’ I want to know that. So what’s more valuable? The links that Andisheh has or the stories that he’s writing? I love them both!”
You know, over the past few weeks, the No. 1 buzzword that I’ve seen from any number of people who want to maximize revenue from their content is “Huffington Post.” (Which I guess makes it a buzzphrase, but whatever.) But that particular publication is helped largely by two things: 1, the financial largesse of its owner; and 2, the fact that it doesn’t pay writers. Not to mention the whole idea that its “aggregation” comes from media outlets that, by and large, do pay their writers, and don’t have semi-egomaniacal founders who are willing to pour money into content ventures. So they are struggling with their owners making boneheaded decisions like the one made by Creative Loafing’s head honcho. How many links to the Reader does that HuffPo Chicago page have up now, do you think? What content will be aggregated if all the producers become aggregators? It makes my head hurt.
If Eason is so “enamored” with that model, perhaps he can sit at a desk and aggregate content his own damn self, for little money and even less glory. Or, maybe, even pay his writers more for sharing the contents of his daily bookmarks. Not everyone wants to “lifecast” every single moment of their lives for the profit of others.