Media Site Looks for Free Content, Touts "Reputation Economy"

Last Updated Sep 10, 2009 8:58 AM EDT

You've heard of the New Economy. You're heard of the Old Economy. There's the Freemium Economy and the Link Economy and, as everyone knows after the past year, the Crashing Economy. But now we have a new invention from WebMediaBrands in its guise as MediaBistro: the Reputation Economy.

That's right, in the future we're all going to be paid in the new currency of recognition and fame, the Bono. Or, given how Old Pay for writers has gone, it's more likely to be the Hasseloff. What's brought this revolution is the pre-announcement by MB among its paid members that the site plans yet another blog to join the likes of FishBowl, TVNewser, and GalleyCat, which are some of its blogs that focus on professional media pursuits.

Of course each of these blogs is resplendent with various ads for paying customers as well as come-ons for MB's own courses and other paid services. But, like, that seems so yesterday? You know, that word ... paid? We're all beyond that, according to MB, which wants to launch a "community" blog that would offer "a great opportunity for each member of our community to showcase their amazing talents and offer something valuable to their media brethren," according to an email making the rounds. (Ironically, that message is heading first to the people who actually have paid memberships on the site.)

In other words, media people are supposed to write for free for a site that charges for advertising and even has paid memberships so that the site can make more money off the content donations. The payoff is reputation, or as we used to call it, exposure. But as some writer once said, and I wish I knew who came up with this originally, "You can die of exposure." Or at least go broke. Does this mean that the staff at Mediabistro is part of the reputation economy? I'm guessing not. Here's a concise view of the topic from Harlan Ellison:

By the way, do we get full Hasseloffs or just a Dave or two?

Image via Flickr user D'Arcy Norman, CC 2.0.

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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.