Earlier this week, we wrote about Pay Per Click Journalism in Chile, where a newspaper publisher is going to base salaries on how many clicks reporters' stories get on the paper's website. Sam Whitmore saw that story and started to think about what it meant, leading to a proposal for a Zagat's style ratings system for news sources, where anyone could come along and rate news sources on a large number of criteria, building up an overall "review" of the source. He called me up (early in the morning) to ask what I thought of it, and my response (in his article) is to worry if publications would then "write to the test" -- trying to hit on just those criteria. Sam's response, appropriately enough, is that at least these metrics would be much more broadly applicable and useful than something simple like clicks on a website, as seen in the situation in Chile. He's absolutely right. However, since our conversation, I've been thinking a bit more about it, and I still wonder how well it would work. People seem to get much more personal about news sources, and accusations of bias from one side or the other could lead to very polarized results. Still, it would definitely be an interesting experiment, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it show up soon enough.
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