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Content farms and the ongoing democratization of journalism

Critics say user-generated networks like Bleacher Report are just SEO-driven content farms that generate “clickbait” posts designed to drive low-quality traffic — but they also provide the opportunity for writers to show their abilities without having to work their way through the traditional media ecosystem.


If you follow online sports at all, you’ve probably come across at least one site or story from Bleacher Report, the massive sports-writing network that was recently acquired by Turner Broadcasting for an estimated $200 million. Much of the content that draws the 10 million unique visitors BR gets every month is generated by an army of about 6,000 non-professional (and in many cases unpaid) writers, and this has led to criticism that the network is a “content farm” that fills the internet with low-quality writing. But is that true? In a sense, it is — but it’s also a very real example of how the internet has lowered the barriers to entry and democratized journalism.

The latest attack on Bleacher Report came last week in a long SF Weekly article, which said that the network “floods the web with inexpensive user-generated content” and is “a long way from any…

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