Text & Screenshots:
Julie Schwietert Collazo
When I heard about the launch of the new service Newsmodo, which purports to connect freelancers with outlets that will pay to publish their work, I was excited and made a mental note to test drive the site right away. Besides the obvious benefit–getting paid for work–what interested me about the potential of the platform was its ability to connect the dots between me, a writer based in the US, and editors abroad. And what excited me even more was the “two-way traffic” structure of the site: we writers wouldn’t simply be pitching into the void. Instead, editors would also be trawling the site and looking for stories. The likelihood that I would connect with editors and publications I hadn’t even considered (and possibly didn’t even know about) for certain stories seemed high.
A couple weeks later, I signed up for an account (free for journalists; fee-based for editors, publishers, and producers) and decided to try the service with a story that was timely but hadn’t yet found a home. The first step of the process was simple enough: Enter a headline, assign the story a topical category, provide a summary, and tag the pitch with some relevant keywords.
Step 2 was simple enough, too: Geotag the article.
So far, the process was clean, clear, and efficient.
And then I got to Step 3.
Write the full story? On spec? With no guarantee that an editor will ever see or consider the piece, much less buy it? Why in the world would I do that (even if, as Newsmodo says, only 10% of your written story “will be visible in the Marketplace” as an extract)?
I canceled my upload and signed out.
I can see how the service might be of value to photographers and videographers, whose product is more or less sellable as soon as it’s produced (don’t get uptight, folks; I work in both of these media, too, and I know they require editing and time, too). But to write an entire article, especially feature-length, and throw it into the void seems like a colossal waste of time and energy for writers. And it doesn’t seem to achieve the function of weeding out folks who don’t write well; I saw several extracts on the site that were written by people who had clearly not performed so well in their language arts classes. In other words, there’s no vetting by the Newsmodo management that provides editors with the assurance they’re commissioning material from writers with bona fides of any kind.
There’s been a bit of breathless “THIS is THE future of new media!” hype surrounding the site’s launch, and I’m genuinely disappointed that it doesn’t actually seemed geared to benefiting writers. As well, there’s the issue of setting one’s own prices and Newsmodo’s commission, a 30% cut. While I appreciate the idea of a service that can connect me with editors around the world (and would be willing to pay a commission on stories I’m keen to have published abroad), the idea that a broker might eventually replace direct transactions between editors and writers will take some adjusting to. Finally, there’s the question of efficacy. The site is new, granted, but how many folks are actually selling pieces? And are editors genuinely interested in this kind of platform? Will they use it once the novelty wears off? These are questions that aren’t being asked in the pieces I’ve read about Newsmodo’s launch. (And I suspect that may be because the journalists covering the site’s launch haven’t tried the service out themselves).
Is there something I’m missing about Newsmodo? Have any of you used it? Would you? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.