An article published in The New York Times Aug. 1 focuses on “platforming,” a growing practice among media outlets that allows readers to upload digital content such as “links, text, video and other media” to augment existing written content. Platforming, says the article, results in a “‘publish first’ model in which a lightly filtered, or unfiltered, stream of material moves from reader to reader, with the publication acting as a host and directing conversation but not controlling it.”
The article does not address how platforming might (or might not) involve professional writers—whether it could open up new opportunities for writers to provide reader interaction-ready content or eliminate the need for pros as readers take on more direct involvement—and the piece avoids any mention of whether compensation would be given to regular contributors.
“If it does not quite eliminate the middleman, it goes a long way toward reducing his role, and some media companies view it as a way to enhance their relationship with readers while increasing content production at minimal cost,” says the Times.
But might platforming give media companies an excuse to replace freelancers with unpaid contributors? The piece quotes Pilar Guzmán, editor of Traveler: “I don’t see it as that different from working with stringers … We are handpicking every single person because we share a sensibility. Moreover, this is an easy way to cull local expertise from around the world.”
The article cites Conde Nast Publications, Time Inc. and USA Today as examples of high-profile media companies that have introduced variations on the platforming theme. Additionally, it notes that each outlet regulates just how much reader involvement is acceptable. To date, the cited media companies have been reluctant to allow readers to augment straight news stories, allowing more involvement in entertainment pieces, cooking articles and the like.
Read the article here.