Want Another CityPages Post? Pay For It

My posts regarding CityPages and Village Voice Media have been darn popular with everyone other than CityPages employees. So popular, in fact, that while talking to a friend tonight, they suggested, “Why not charge for them?”

Sure, beer was involved in this conversation, so I know they were on something, but I think they may also be onto something.

Without further adieu, here is the first Donate for The Deets post here on The Deets.

If you’d like to read yet another post about something I’ve uncovered at CityPages and Village Voice Media, cough up some coin. A net positive $50 in payments guarantees the post goes live on Thursday as planned.

Here’s the caveat: People can also pay to keep the post from going live. I call this the dueling pianos concept. The post has been proofread and described as, “Wow, that’s good stuff.”

Pick your side. Payments can be made in increments of $1 up to and beyond $50 (change the quantity to whatever you’d like after clicking the Add to Cart button).

Update: Y’all coughed up some coin in no time. The post is now live. If you like or don’t like what you read here, feel free to send me money.


Should Ed Post It?



Fine print:

1. Money received goes into Ed’s pocket. This isn’t altruism, people. It’s some kind of new form of journalism (or whatever you call this bloggity blog stuff I do).

2. The PayPal checkout page will say 3rd Party Feedback (another one of my projects). If any of you are PayPal checkout gurus who know how to customize checkout by project, give me a shout.

3. Privacy: When donating, I’ll know who you are but will not reveal your identity without your permission.

4. Props to Jeffrey McManus for writing a blog post that helped inspire this concept.

71 thoughts on “Want Another CityPages Post? Pay For It”

  1. Let’s assume that this goal is an easy reach — this means that a donation against posting it is, more or less, doubling your donation to The Deets. Hum. I love this idea.

  2. I figure it’s only fair to allow people to express their opinions financially on either side of the issue. Create a market around a topic. I’m just the messenger.

  3. Jeffrey, spelling corrected. Sorry about that.

    Patrick, maybe you can time-shift your payment to a year ago when you could have almost singlehandedly purchased America?

  4. Just a suggestion: A random “wow that’s good stuff” endorsement from an unnamed proofer isn’t much. Why not get someone with name recognition (derusha!) to endorse this third post? I suppose you could say the first two CP/VV posts should be considered indicative of what’s to come, but slapping some sort of “yeah, this shit is legit” quote can only help your chances.

  5. As soon as I saw a tweet by Secrets of the City that you were going to charge for another excellent media analysis piece, I literally could not click over fast enough to donate fast enough. Once I found out people could donate in order to NOT publish the article, I was frozen in my tracks.

    First, I think this is an innovative and thought provoking setup so major kudos in making me think through the following points before I posted them.

    While I understand Aaron’s argument that you can (almost) double your revenue flow by allowing anti-article donations, I think the following cons outweigh the possible revenue stream.

    1) By letting people donate to NOT publish the article, you aren’t creating a market or an auction. You’re alienating your core consumer group (ie people like me). Not only does it rile my journalistic morals on censorship but my pocketbook as well. Why should donate a $1 (to be honest, I was ready to donate $5) when some marketing director at CP erase my donation? Even if we don’t hit the $50 before the deadline, I know I’ve bought a “slice” of your work and hopefully the next article will be more in demand and at least I’ve made your time worthwhile.

    If you remove the anti-donations next time you can rise the cap to $75 or even $100 since people won’t be worried there $1 will go to waste. The maximum you could earn from this process is $99 (a 50/49 mix). This is extremely unlikely since I doubt the pro and anti crowds will track linearly. The way it seems to be going, you’re going to hit +$50 net and probably get a $10 bonus from the anti crowd. Raising the cap and embracing the group that is willing to pay for your content will likely result in more net profit in the long run.

    2) Transparency: I trust you, so I know the article is written and ready to go. But for those who don’t, how do they know you’re written the article at all? You can just keep raking in anti-donations for articles that are never written.

    3) People don’t read blogs to pay money to not read articles. The only possible market for the anti-article donations are those who might be personally damaged, put in a poor light, etc (ie CP or VVM staff). They shouldn’t have a financial stake in controlling your editorial.

  6. Noah, great points. I like the idea of allowing everyone with a vested interest in a story have a financial say. You seem to be looking at this from a journalism perspective. I’m not necessarily doing the same. For example, I wouldn’t mind being paid to not write from time to time. I could then write a story about not writing, which may be a more interesting story than the story that wasn’t published.

    On #3, people who want to see the article published could also pay to vote against it. This may or may not have already happened.

  7. Noah makes a good point. Paying to keep news off the site is just a bit creepy and calls the reporter’s integrity into question. Ed, I don’t think that was your intention. The intention was probably to have a little more fun at CP’s expense. Nevertheless, you might want to rethink the two way auction.

  8. @HongPong, the gross is higher than the net. How much I may or may not disclose.

    @hmm, as you can see, Ang has outed herself as my proofreader. I think, generally, that people will chip in based on my history than my pitching of this particular post.

  9. Tom, you may be right about the 2-sided auction. However, what if it’s transparent?

    That may put it ahead of other media sites who refuse to cover particular stories due to financial interests. At least you’d know what the financial ties are.

  10. Net +$54

    The last contributor asked that I publish the article now rather than wait until Thursday as planned. What do you think? Should I give the “Don’t Publish” crowd time to pool their funds?

  11. An offline commenter told me that my post reads like this was a race to $50. If that’s the case, they reasoned, I should publish now that the goal has been achieved.

  12. This is a great experiment, Ed. Thanks your work on pulling together the articles and for engaging your audience in such a unique way.

    I donate on behalf of myself as somebody who’s interested in supporting good journalism and creative thought online… It’s not on behalf of my employer. But that’s not to say my employer won’t steal your idea!

    Hope you are well.

    -John Daenzer
    Director of New Media
    WCCO-TV | WCCO.com

  13. To clear up some confusion, I didn’t actually intend to route the beer payment on. I plan to drink that beer and keep it to myself. It seems I was misunderstood and do not actually plan to give Ed a beer golden shower. That’s not to say he wouldn’t enjoy it.

    Thanks.

  14. It’s quite funny to me, and more than a little ironic, that you try to pass yourself off as some crusader for honest and quality journalism but are willing to silence yourself — to sit on what I’m sure you’d describe as some groundbreaking piece of journalism — for a measly $50.

    Raises some questions about your motives, doesn’t it, Ed?

  15. @The Say Hey Kid, I’ve been looking forward to a comment from you. In my opinion, which I wouldn’t expect you to agree with, I’m letting the market decide whether this should go live.

    A more careful reading of the post and comments would show that the market has voted with more than $50 already.

  16. What, a ‘journalist’ willing to take money to withhold a story…you’ve changed man…into a mainstream media person!

    Um, congrats?

  17. @Ed: That’s not your opinion; that’s a fact. You are letting the market decide. And the market will no doubt decide that you should publish your story. And so you’ll publish it, which you always knew you would, and make some cash in the process. Congrats. Very savvy.

    But you missed my point: In your VVM coverage, you carry on like some beacon of journalistic decency. But you’re now violating a pretty basic tenant of the craft: That silence is not for sale. What if the target of your next story (someone at City Pages, no doubt) donated $5,000 to the “Don’t Post It” movement? You would have to either renege on your earlier promise to let the market decide or sit on a potentially important story about Twin Cities media — neither of which would fall in line with your holier-than-though criticism of the journalists you’ve targeted.

    The point is: If you’re going to beg VVM to treat you like a real player — to respond to your criticisms like your work is worth responding to — you should hold yourself to the same standards to which you hold them. Otherwise you’re just another standard-less basement-blogger, which, judging from the depth of your work, you don’t want to be.

  18. Hey Say Hey, Willie Mays called. He wants his name back.

    And, I made your points above. Ed was conducting an experiment and presumably making a bit of a joke at the same time.

    Silence is not for sale? Stories don’t get published every day because media are afraid of advertisers’ reaction. (cf. Strib’s demotion of Nick Coleman.)

    Maybe next time somebody can alert you when there’s irony afoot. Even if it was unintentional.

  19. @The Say Hey Kid, great points. Personally, I don’t view my craft through the lens of traditional journalism. In cases like this, my craft is entertainment based around making fun of how traditional media companies overreach, underachieve, manipulate, etc. In some cases, people may listen, change, and make the world a better place.

    It surprises me to hear you suggest that I wish to be a big player in the eyes of VVM. In my opinion, the market decides whether the stuff I put out here is worth responding to. And that varies a LOT from one post to the next.

  20. Pingback: Quick links 2.17.09: Music vs. Sex, Minneapolis food and blogging, SPARK and whatever… « the listenerd
  21. Hey Ed, nice tongue-in-cheek address of the “paid blogs” idea; as a former MSM type, I cringe (just a wee bit) at the reference to a form of journalism but I am getting to know your humor 😉

    Questions: why is Century 21.ca home page image featured at the end of this post? I couldn’t see the relevance… (and the image’s link is broken fyi)

  22. Heather, thanks for the comment. I throw a lot of stuff out here and see what sticks.

    In the case of the Century21.ca banners, I’ve been experimenting with different forms of ad creative to test CTRs among Canadian visitors to the site. The one you happened to see is one of the lower CTR options I’ve tested to date. Thanks for catching the typo in the tracking URL.

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